If you’ve heard about the 1998 nuclear tests known as Pokhran ll, you will also know that it was an extremely proud moment for our country. But what went into executing this secret mission is a story in itself. We will be able to watch the incredible story in theatres near you with Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran starring John Abraham and Diana Penty. But before that, you can find out more about the Pokhran tests here:
1. Pokhran means “the land of five mirages”. It is located in the Jaisalmer district in Rajasthan. It is an apex research and testing site of the Indian nuclear programme and has served as the test site for India's first underground nuclear weapon detonation.
2. The preparations began almost 10 days before the tests with the weapons being transported from BARC in Mumbai to Pokhran on May 1. So as to not attract any attention, minimal security was used and only four trucks transported the devices instead of an elaborate convoy.
3. The chief co-ordinator of the project was Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (later, President of India), Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and Head of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and the man on the spot, along with Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Dr R Chidambaram.
4. Many countries, especially America, never wanted India to get such power and it failed our missions many times through a very sharp and agile satellite called ‘Eye in the Sky’, which cost around $1 billion. We had been trying since 1982 and failed every time until 1998.
5. Only nine decision-makers in the country knew about this mission.
6. In the year 1995, the then Prime Minister PV Narshimha Rao and the engineers’ team were all set to start the test but were caught and the PM immediately got the call from the then American President Bill Clinton who exerted enormous pressure to stop the preparations and it had to be called off.
7. With the Pokhran range full of army soldiers, the scientists too had to wear camouflage combat uniforms. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, went by the code name Major General Prithviraj.
8. Many names are credited to these tests; formerly, they were called Operation Shakti-98 (Power-98), and the five nuclear bombs were designated Shakti-I, II, III, IV and V.
9. Another thing is that we had very interesting code words and pass codes when we used to enter the site. They were lines from songs. Din dhal jaye.
10. Only Israel supported India while other countries opposed the program.
Camera: Sanjoy Deb
Editor: Ashish Macccune