16 is a court drama which says of what happened at ship samudra on that night



I reached Vishakhapatnam by 8. The journey was a bit lengthier than I thought. There wasn’t any direct flight from London to Vishakhapatnam. First I checked out at Hyderabad, and then took a train. The whole visit to India, was Ralph’s idea. He also said he would pick me up from Vishakhapatnam. Instead an old and stout man, Mr Sunil Kumar took me to Grand Viz Hotel. He gave his apology for Ralph, as he was busy in some sort of work. Sunil Kumar is the Captain of the ship Samudra. We reached our hotel, and Captain took me to our room, a three bed luxury one (honestly it was the first time I am going to sleep in luxury bed). Ralph didn’t turn out that day, so Captain came for company. He took 3 shots. I looked at him in a surprise. ‘The old man…’ I thought… and laughed. 

But he never stopped….

When he had 6, he started speaking about his life at Samudra.

“I wasn’t like this, old with worn skin. I was strong as iron pillar. We keralites are strong and working people, from god’s own country. Very famous you know. I was the steerer of the ship before becoming the Captain. I had my own team in the ship, the 16… A group of must say ‘keepers of Samudra.’ What is Samudra? The weapon carrier ship railing through the Indian sea miles. It was one of the many ships that coasts the Bay of Bengal. It was 6 months job, next six months leave. Very good life, until the May, two years before. Facing now with that three year burden….”

(He went for drinking the last sip of two full bottle.)

“What happened captain?”

“What happened?” 

“What were you speaking about?” 

“What was I speaking? Oh yes now I get it. Before that, aren’t you from Britain, Mr Amos?”

“You can call me Amos.”

“Okay Amos, I am Sorry, this is none of your business. Foreigners mustn’t know about that?”

“Isn’t this about top secret thing happened in your ship?”

“How did you know about the ‘disaster of the Samudra’?”

“Because you told him captain….” It was Ralph. “Sorry, I was late. Did he blab out something?”

“No he was about to speak the thing.”

Ralph laid him in the sofa. And after some time, we could hear him snoring.

 “Poor man, faced a lot in his life. Everything will end by this week.”

“Where were you been, Ralph?” 

“I had to be for a work.”

“Work? Any sort of a case?” 

“An interesting one. Tomorrow we will be there for its trial.”

“So you got me here for the trial. What is point in that?”

“The whole trial is waiting… You will get it soon.”

 DAY 1

Next day Ralph took me out, with Captain to the court. The Court was full of People, in white uniform. I thought it must be place for the Navy. But it never meant like a court to me. The building had a western touch. Everyone greeted Captain, but they had an odd face for Ralph, which I think he never bothered. An officer came out of the building, He also greeted Captain.

“The court is about to adjoin in 30 minutes Captain. I am taking him from here, the General asked so, before the trial. If you please, Ralph.”

“Okay” and Ralph went in with him.

“Why did he took Ralph in, and what is this ‘trial’ about?”

“This is Navy’s Court of Justice. Unlike the other open courts, this one is especially for Navy officers, and fro the people related to case?”


“Accused, and victims’ relatives. They are the witness for the judgement.”

 “But why did he took Ralph in?”

Before Captain could reply, the bell rang inside. We took our seats. It was like in a middle of ‘White Ocean’ I could see Captain talking to officers, but my mind was full of questions

‘Why he took Ralph in? I was here for Ralph. And according to Captain, only the relatives of victim, and the accused…... I could see a family, on the next side. I think they are the relatives of the Victim, if then am I here for the accused. Is Ralph a criminal?’

I was in my thought, when I noticed everyone standing. And on dais, a highly honoured man sit, maybe he might be the General. He began

“The Court had adjoined for the Trial of Samudra. Manpreet, the Prosecutor, you can proceed now.”

(I looked at Captain’s face. He was listening to the court. The case, it was all about ‘the disaster’ he spoke yesterday.)

“Before getting into the trial, let me give a short description of the Disaster of Samudra. Samudra is a weapon carrier ship, guiding the parts of Bay of Bengal. It belongs to Coastal guard of The Nation. Three years, that is, on 12th May. 4 people were dead on the Ship. One was the former Captain, and my brother, Captain Gurpreet Singh, and his Assistant Captain, Colonel Shivjay Pandey, He was the only ‘Colonel’ in that Ship, before February, when the 16 re-joined for the Patrolling. That ‘new Colonel’ from the reports, was behind the death of his crew member, Alain Venkateshwar…..

“Ralph” I murmured

And we are here for the judgement of what happened at Samudra. I take the permission to call Mr Ralph alias Colonel Ralph for questioning.” 

Two officers brought Ralph on to the court.

“Mr Ralph, or I say Colonel Ralph. What is this colonel about?”

“It was once mentioned by Sunil sir. He said I was like a Colonel, in looks and behaviour. And then my friends started calling me that.”

“Did you ever felt hurt, when they call you that?”

“Yes in the beginning. But I got adjusted to that.”

“Who were your friends in the ship?”

“The 16.”

“Even Sunil sir?”

“Yes he was too friendly.”

“Even Alain was your friend, right?”

“Yes he was my friend.”

“He ‘was’ your friend. When did your friendship broke?”

“No. we weren’t enemies.”

“Then why did you kill him?”

Everyone, even myself was surprised. 

“I didn’t. Why should I?”

“The death of Alain was because of sea water entering into the lungs.”

“You missed the bullets on his chest.”

“Even that’s the case. He could have been saved. The doctor told that.”

“No you couldn’t! No one could. Even the…..”

“Why are you shouting Ralph? Are you a doctor to decide that? General now I like to call Marti here.”

“You proceed.”

A short man, on the uniform came. Prosecutor asked “You are one of the 16, right?”


“Then you might know him” (pointing towards Ralph)


“Describe him, his actions ways on the ship.”

“He was a one of the strong people I saw on the ship. Energy packed man. He had problem with his temper sometimes. And must say, he was intelligent and brainy, and helped in crisis.”

“How did he help you, or us in crisis?”

“He was the man behind the investigation on the ship. He…..”

“He might also looked on Alain’s case?”

“Yes. Sure.”

“Did he called in for investigation, or he was called in for team. As the general know, it was Prathab, who was in charge of investigation.”

“Yes and Ralph asked him to get him in.”

“So he asked to get himself involved. You must note sir, he asked to get himself in investigation.”

“Who do you think saw Alain last?”

“Ralph. Who else. He was there on the place, where Alain fell in the ocean.”

“Can you describe the incident?”

“After Alain left behind Colonel Sir, our Asst. Captain, we call him that, Ralph ran behind, giving Gurpreet Sir, in our hands. He was shot with 4 bullets on his chest. He was dead in our hands (Everyone lowers their head) I couldn’t see the three returning. So me and Kiran, ran after, and I saw Ralph on the northern side of ship. Colonel Sir came from behind. He asked us to jump into the Ocean. And we brought the cold body of Alain into the deck.”

Everyone again lowered their neck. I could see a frozen face on Ralph.

“Sir, Colonel Sir was the only witness of Alain’s death. Prathab reported that in his report. Alain’s last words were ‘COLONEL RALPH’ this is true, right Ralph?”

“Yes” Ralph answered.

“Last question, Marti. You said that Ralph had some anger problems. What was that mainly about? Isn’t that about ‘Colonel’?”

“Mostly, yes.”

Everyone look on each other’s face. I looked at Captain’s. I could sense a sadness on it. But I couldn’t believe where this leads to. If ‘Colonel Sir’ was present here…..

“Sir I am saying that, Colonel was the only witness of this case, and unfortunately he was found dead in his room, shot with his own gun. I doubt his presence there. We could now only rely on Prathab, who will be here by tomorrow. One last question for you Ralph. Did Alain ever called you by that name?”


“That settles it. Ralph had Alain in his hands, when he called him Colonel, His anger, led to the death of an officer….”

“No.” Ralph screamed. “It wasn’t like that….”

“Further details will be clarified by tomorrow. That’s all Sir.” And Prosecutor concluded his words.

The General said “The trial is postponed for tomorrow. By the time, Ralph will be under our custody. Court dismissed.” and he stood up.

We parted our way to the Hotel. Captain didn’t spoke a word, about the trial. Even I didn’t had the mind to ask at that gloomy face. We reached our room. Captain opened a bottle and drank a sip. I could hear him murmuring 

“What had you done, Ralph…? What had you...? What are you doing?”

“I am taking a sip. Do you need one?” I gave him a glass

“This is military quota, understand. Not for sale.”

“Is there anyone behind?” I looked back “Who are you speaking to Captain?”

He itched his head and had another. I panted him and said “I know your worries captain. I didn’t even think about what Ralph did. This glass is irritating….” And I threw it.

Captain gave an odd look, and said “So my dear worked. Do you believe in what that Prosecutor said?”

“Not a word. But I think there might be something in it called truth. What do you say?”

“Truth is a bizarre.”

“Cinematic quote. Not that I think he was lying, the prosecutor. What do you say?”

“No he doesn’t. But he twisted the facts.”

“Then you can speak truth. Captain, say now the ‘disaster of Samudra’”

“That day was bad, even that journey began from the worst.”

“What ‘worst’ happened?”

“Before we were about to leave the port, we got news that an unidentified body was found near the sewage line of Vishakhapatnam street. Bad news. Actually we can’t even open newspaper now, even front page is full of murders, rapes… Eh Eh…”

“You are deviating from the topic.”

“You must know India, the now India! 

I have nothing more to offer, than what prosecutor said. It happened 2 years before. Samudra was one a kind of ship, which carries weapons for the coastguard, the carrier. There was an intelligence report, that a spy, of terrorists, had entered the ship. The captain, Gurpreet Singh, called us. I was the in charge of 16, the keepers of the ship. We made a thorough check, through the keepers and the workers. And then we found him. He was one of the workers, Karan Tajik, before we could catch him, he jumped into the vast sea. Before he jumped, he shot our Captain, and Alain, who was following him till the deck. I don’t know what happened at the deck, and how Ralph got into it. I know that he do follow them, Asst. Captain and Alain, after sometime.”

“Do Ralph was in the further investigation team?”

“Investigation team. It was a one man show. He was the team.”

“Then what about Prathab?”

“He was just a name, suggested by Ralph. A wall behind.”

“Prosecutor did mention about two other deaths? Who all are they?”

“One was the Asst. Captain, Colonel Sir, and Akshay, the substitute for Alain. Everything needs substitution.”

“How all did they die?”

“Akshay was found in the sea, near to the chain that holds the ship. There was a pool of blood near him. Colonel Sir was found dead in his room. Cyanide intake. It was a suicide”

“Was Ralph anywhere around them, at that time?”

“The 16, routinely works in shifts. Ralph was on his room, till evening.”

“This happened 2 years before. Then why now the trials?”

“Prathab had asked for 2 year break, as he needs more time and to gather more evidence.”

“From who all did, he collected the evidence.”

“I think he went out of nations. To London, Brixley, Luxemburg, Transylvania, Kerala…. These were the places he reported. But I do not think that he went that far?”

“Why so?”

“Because he was there at New Delhi, with the higher Intelligence officials, for a year.”

“Is there any funding for investigation?”

“Yes, and he did withdrew money for the investigation. And in fact reports were submitted on date.”

“If Prathab was at Delhi, then who might be there. Luxemburg, Brixley……. Confe…ssion game.” I checked in my bag. I took out the document on Confession game. 

‘The 2nd one at Brixley, 3rd at Luxemburg, 4th…..’ 

“That’s it, it wasn’t Prathab, who went there. It was Ralph. He was, in fact all the time, were after this case. He do went to Transylvania, to look for his friend. If I remember, it was T Karan.”

“That’s Karan Tajik. So he was behind that.”


“Tajik was arrested by Police at Kerala-Andhra Pradesh border. He was transferred by a Navy Official. So it was his play.”

“Then why Tajik wasn’t presented and why Ralph was accused?”

“Because Ralph dropped Alain into the sea.”


“That’s true. Now I remember he once told me that, when I was to suggest his name for investigation.”

“All the effort he did…, was to save him from that?”

We looked at face to face, on what grounds we reached. Before light blew out.


The Court adjoined at Morning. The setup of Court was same as yesterday, Ralph was sitting in the chair. There were parents of Alain, many officials in white. The General came in, sat and started the court.

“Today, we will conclude this case. Now Prathab, you can explain your investigation.”

A tall man in white stood up. He submitted his files to the general and started.

“Yesterday, Manpreet sir had given details about the death of Alain, my colleague. The facts he said, are true. From the time, the investigation was given, till now, I worked sincerely. I can assure that. Primary investigations were carried out by now Captain Sunil Kumar, and Colonel Shivjay Pandey. That investigation includes searching the room of Karan. Apart from his uniform and dresses, we found two written messages, cypher on his table. It contained some Arab numerals. The numerals and the details are submitted.”

“Okay Prathab, but Manpreet raised a suspicion in your investigation, that you include Ralph in your team. What did you say about that?”

“Sir we have kept Ralph under our observation. Since there was no one to maintain the ship, as the newly came Akshay was posted in Sunil sir’s assistance. So I kept him with me, he could then be my help.”


“Sir, now I like to call Karan Tajik here.”


Two Officers brought Karan into the court. I could feel that prosecutor was getting restless. Prathab began

“Karan, I looked through your qualifications. You are eligible to be a Navy Officer. Then how did you become a dock worker?”

“It was because of Gurpreet, Sir.”

“So you know Gurpreet Sir, before?”

“We were from the same place.”

“Then what happened between you two.”

“Gurpreet was from higher race, and from high class family. We both got short listed for the job at Navy. His elder brother, Manpreet was at selection committee. I had more chance than for him, for the qualification. And I send my letter. But it didn’t reach before the committee. And Gurpreet was selected. I asked the officials about that. But they said they had no clue, and all actions were under Manpreet. I went behind him, begged him. He didn’t get me chance, and even disqualified me, humiliated me…..”

The General looked at Manpreet and asked “Is he saying truth?”

“No sir. He is lying.”

“Let me say one good thing to make you believe….everyone to believe….” Karan continued “I killed your brother… I killed his brrotherr…..” And he jumped and moved towards Manpreet. Two officers got hold of him and get him outside.

“So he did confirmed that he killed Gurpreet. So he was the spy.”

“I don’t think so, sir”


“Because sir we found another code in his room, when my investigation started. In fact I submitted 3 codes, but in primary investigation they got only two.”


“Karan is not the spy. Sir we were misbelieved by the real spy.”

“Do you have any more evidence?” Manpreet asked. The General gave an odd look at him. He didn’t said a word and sit.

“Yes sir. We found Karan’s gun, near the door of the room, where Gurpreet was shot. Alain was shot at the deck. This proves that Alain wasn’t killed by Karan. This opened another window. Who then killed Alain? Karan didn’t had access to that because, because it was from the Weapon’s dept. (WD) Alain had duty at WD that day. So he might know who gave the gun. I repeat he unexpectedly found out the ‘real Spy’.”

“Okay what about the Suicide of Colonel Shivjay Pandey and Akshay?”

“Colonel Sir’s death was a suicide. There was a bottle of Potassium Cyanide on his table. And his drinks do contain Cyanide. Also we didn’t found anyone passing through the passage. He was found in his room by Ganesh. Ralph asked Ganesh to handover the file to him, which he brought from his room (Prathab looked at Ralph). Nothing more found from his room.”

“What about Akshay’s”

“Akshay’s body was found in the sea. There was markings of a bite, or maybe weapon like twin spoke, on his neck. Excessive blood loss through the wound and drowning caused his death. No evidence were found near to the body, or the weapon wasn’t discovered.”

“Okay Prathab, but how did you figure out the Attack of Terrorists?”

“Sir firstly we got an intelligence report that a spy of terrorist group, was in our ship. And after incidents happened at ship, we strengthened our defence. The next day, we got an alert that terrorist Inayath Khaleel and his henchman Shazah Shakir, had entered our country, and they may be planning for an attack. Inayath was one of the most wanted terrorist, by the Security Council. After we decipher the third code, we were surprised. It shows the location near to Andaman, our next halt. So we immediately informed Sunil sir, and successfully, pulled off the strike. But the code, was still a problem.”


“Sir, How did code reached Karan’s room. How the code did reached this ship, which was in middle of the sea. Not by bird way, we can neglect that. So there must be a messenger, who came with the code. Since there was only one guy who came here, as a substitute, he would then be the messenger for the spy.”

“You mean?”

“Yes sir, Akshay.”


“We have evidence sir. When we searched his room, in his bag, we found 3 passports, an Aadhar card, which on further investigation, proved fake. Sadly everything happened after the death of the culprits.”

“So he is the ‘the Spy’”

“No sir, I told you, he was the messenger, the accomplice of the Spy.”

“Then who is the Spy?”

“The one who killed Alain, the one who put Akshay as Sunil sir’s assistant, for spying him. It was none other than Colonel Shivjay Pandey.”

“What!!” General screamed.

“Yes sir, all along it was him.”

“But how?”

“Think sir, he was with us all the time from the beginning. If the first report was correct, the spy must have entered from the port. He was one whom Akshay met. And it was he who got a chance to put the code in Karan’s room, as it was in his presence, the room was opened, twice. Also he was other person, who followed Karan. He was the one, who gave Karan the gun. You can ask him, if he became normal.”

“But why a reputed officer like him, would do that?”

“That reputed officer was Colonel Shivjay Pandey. But he didn’t come with us. He wasn’t in the journey started at 9th.”

“Where are you coming at?”

“On 9th, an unidentified body was found near the sewers of Vishakhapatnam. These are the paper reports.” And he gave the newspaper.

“That body was identified two days after, by his Wife. Sir, it was the real Colonel Shivjay Pandey.”

“Then who was this ‘Shivjay’ journeyed with you, all the time?”

“Terrorist Inayath Khaleel.”

“What are you saying?”

“The Intelligence Bureau confirmed it. I hereby submitting the report.”

The General went through submitted report. The General said “The IB confirmed that it was Inayath Khaleel, there is one more thing mentioned here. Akshay was identified as Shazah Shakir, Inayath’s accomplice, his right hand.”

“Sir now the case is solved. We must thank Ralph for his help. Because he deciphered the code, and the case.”

“Okay then, who killed Inayath and Shakir?”

“Don’t know sir, in fact we reached conclusion after their deaths. I think some things are better be dead. And that’s all, Sir.”

The General stood up. He held a paper in hand and started to read “It has been proved before the court that the due events happened in the Ship Samudra, was due to Inayath Khaleel and Shazah Shakir. Also, the Prosecutor failed to prove Ralph as guilty, and in fact, Manpreet, the prosecutor, must face the council for his old actions. The Court finds that Ralph was not guilty, and also salute him, and his crew 16, along with their Captain Sunil Sir, for their brave attempt. Also the court asks for a proper commemoration for Alain Venkateshwar and Colonel Shivjay Pandey. 

Court dismissed.” 

“The evening of Vishakhapatnam was the one of the best ever I could experience. Driving through the city, feeling the sea breeze, and a mystery, solved. Everything was getting fresher now. I don’t even know what I am speaking. After the court, Ralph introduced me to his parents. They were as energetic as their son. They must be proud of him. I could also see Captain, wiping of his tears. Ralph did accompany me to the station. I couldn’t forget that moment

“What’s next, Ralph?”

“I am joining the Navy again. Probably I would be here.”

“So it is a good bye.”

“Yes. Also did you have the documents of our journeys, solving murders, everything.”

“Yes I even brought them.”

“Keep them with you as my Souvenir. Oh I forgot, this was about my adventure at Kerala. Keep it too.”


We reached the station. He put all the things inside. He said “This isn’t the end. Let’s meet soon.”

“How could you meet, you will be in the Ship. It’s the end.”

“Ha, Amos. The end is the beginning. Bye. Convey my regards to family.” We gave our last hand shake. And train moved forward. And he was left behind. I could see him rubbing his face. I laughed, and wiped my tears.

I opened my bag and kept the document inside. He was right. An end is a beginning. Life goes on. Someone must leave something. For others to remember. And I have a full journey to write….

(Not on narration of Amos)

A week after. Another boarding day of Samudra. Ralph was standing on the deck, facing the sea. He was giving a whole view of the sea, and looking below, he could feel a hand, up for a help

“Alain, hold your hand. Let me pull you”

His voice were cut short, But he could hear his words “Colonel…. Ralph” And he gave a happy nod.

“No…. No…..” And he let him go. “I left him, he asked me to…..

“Sea is my life. I was born in water. I love water. It is my passion. Ralph If I, Alain had a wish, I would like to……”

“Die in water….”His mother said in tearful joy.

“Yes. Die in water. I am sorry….Ma.” 

Prathab put his hands on shoulder and asked “you couldn’t let go of it, Ralph.”

“Some things are left unturned.”

“Like what happened in that room. You didn’t a word about it.”

“I said before, some things are better left unturned. It is time.”

“Let’s meet your new 16, captain.” And Ralph laughed. 

They went inside, on the way. Ralph stopped at Captain Sunil Sir’s room. The same old Captain’s room. Ralph opened the door…..

 (May 12th, Samudra)

Ralph opened Captain’s room. Colonel Sir was starting to have his drink. Ralph said “Sir the files of weapons inside. Just as you asked.”

“I didn’t ask for that.”

“But I brought it. So you are having a drink. I need to talk.”


Ralph took his chair. “Let me get you one drink.”

He then stood up from chair, and took two glasses. One he gave to Colonel, and took the other. 

“What do you want to say?”

“It was about an attack.”


“That will happen on 13th May, early morning. At our halt.”

“Who told you that?”

“I deciphered the code, which you left in Karan’s room…….

 Inayath Khaleel….”

He gave a laugh. Ralph too laughed with him

“So you found me. To fill my interest, how did you find me?” he put his Walkie talkie on the table

“We had got information that you and henchmen got into our country. A random guess, for person to be that perfect in disguise, must be one without a face. And your specialty is hijack. A guess.”

“But how did you find ‘me’?”

“Oh you mean, Colonel Satyajit Pandey. Well you know my surname, or moniker?”

“Colonel Ralph.”

“Yes that’s it. My name is your answer.”

“Now I get it. Alain’s last words, it wasn’t your name. It was Colonel….. Ralph. Witty… You impressed me, Ralph. What will you do now? Call Sunil, or your group?”

“Did you killed Alain?”

“That was my little surprise. Now I will give a surprise in return.”

“I know. But you see, the chain is down. It is your show time. Before that. I forgot one thing…. Wait….” And he took a walkie talkie out and kept on the table. Its sides were covered with blood stains. He put it on and said 


The voice was repeated at Inayath’s talkie. He asked in an angry tone

“Where did you get it?”

“My surprise.”


“Okay, I will speak as an investigator. Your right hand, Shazah Shakir, alias Akshay. He was at the anchor region. A worker came and pushed him in the chain room, stabbed a twin fork into his neck. And tide him to the anchor. And walked away without being noticed. The name on uniform, was Karan Tajik. In a case, most informative man, isn’t the investigator, but the killer himself.”

“You…” He then started to look around his table.

“Probably you were looking for this.” Holding a gun in his hand “Your gun…”

Inayath stood up, but he falls on his chair. 

Ralph said “My friend once told me, that he, in situation like this, gave a chance to his friend. But he closed the door. But here, I gave him the chance, but you closed the door…. By stopping the ship, you let your friend die.”

Inayath was feeling the pain in his chest. He started to spit blood, through his mouth and ears….

“Killing with gun, is simple task. This is quite good.” Ralph put a bottle in front of him. The label read ‘Potassium Cyanide’

“I put it in your drink. I don’t know how it will be justified. But in this case, I am the investigator, I am the Judge, I am the executioner, and I am the law….

For the Nation…

Vande Maatharam….”

“Ral…ph…” Inayath’s voice cut short twisting down in his pool of blood…

“I prefer Colonel Ralph…” 

And he closed the door….



























Submitted: May 24, 2020

© Copyright 2023 Abhishek V S. All rights reserved.

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