‘The Beckoning Isle’ is narrated in the same singularly erudite fashion by Major Abhay Narayan Sapru as his first novel ‘In The Valley of Shadows’. ‘The Beckoning Isle’ is in the setting of the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka, while ‘In The Valley of Shadows’ is in the backdrop of countering Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the Kashmir Valley. Abhay, a Special Forces officer, has had extensive experience in counter-insurgency / counter-terrorism including in Sri Lanka and Jammu & Kashmir. How he keeps you engrossed from the first to the last word is because he has operated on every inch of the ground he describes. This plus his classy writing style gives you the experience of a virtual 3-D walkthrough.
‘The Beckoning Isle – the real Special Forces story’ is a novel, but as close to reality as it could be. The story revolves around Captain Hariharan, the Indian Special Forces officer combating the LTTE in Sri Lanka, and Colonel Silvam of LTTE trained at Chakrata in India; both respecting each other’s combat skills but intent on killing the other. The story takes you through a bit of history and the intrigues of politics, human behaviour, emotions and tribulations, fear and death that surrounded the conflict between the IPKF and the LTTE. The dense, dank mines and IEDs infested forests of Sri Lanka plus various accounts of action-packed encounters are real or near-real to what actually happened. These include the ill-fated IPKF raid on Jaffna University and action by an infantry battalion in the Nayaru Lagoon.
‘The Beckoning Isle’ describes the induction of Captain Hariharan and his troop into Kumulmunai post and Nayaru Lagoon post the infantry battalion reverses. The post came under an LTTE attack, which was eliminated by daylight daring action by Hariharan and his boys. Later, they were part of the IPKF operations in attacking the main LTTE camp in Alampil Forest, where Prabhakaran and Mathaya were reportedly holed up. Not many would know that Captain Hariharan in these actions is actually Captain (later Major Abhay Narayan Sapru). I, being his Commanding Officer, know this. Abhay performed exceptionally well in Sri Lanka and won a Sena Medal for gallantry.
Silvam finally meets his end at the hands of Hariharan in the Alampil Forest close to the main LTTE camp, eventually shot by the same G-3 rifle he lost to Hariharan in an ambush described in the opening chapter of the novel, their paths crossing in between as well. This gripping novel would make an excellent feature film both at home and abroad.