This war started with the liberation of East Pakistan from Pakistan because of their struggle with differences in linguistic identity. The political tensions between the East Bengal and Pakistan had rooted since the times of the creation of Pakistan starting from the popular language movement in 1950, mass riots in East in 1964, and eventually massive protests in 1969.
By 1971, things got heated up and refugees starting flowing to our country. Indian Military took side and stepped up for the safety of refugees. Henceforth, INS Vikrant was put in force. This was when the Pakistan had to re-plan its naval strategies to get rid of INS Vikrant. The Pakistani side considered the destruction of Vikrant a necessity for winning the war. However, a plan to sink Vikrant meant that they needed to deploy a submarine that could go all around the Indian subcontinent. After much planning it was decided that the only ship that could be efficiently deployed in the distant waters of Bay of Bengal was the World War II veteran PNS Ghazi.
By November 1971, the war seemed inevitable and the Soviet Union had reportedly warned Pakistan against the war which they termed as “suicidal course for Pakistan’s unity.” Throughout November 1971, there were thousands of people led by conservative Pakistani politicians who marched in Lahore and across Pakistan, calling for Pakistan to Crush India
The war began with Operation Chengiz Khan which was the code name assigned to the preemptive strikes carried out by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) on the forward airbases and radar installations of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the evening of 3 December 197 at around 5:40pm, and marked the formal initiation of hostilities of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The main Indian objective on the Eastern front was to capture Dacca and on the western front was to prevent Pakistan from entering Indian soil.
In the western theatre of the war, the Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command under the Vice Admiral S.N. Kohli, successfully launched a surprise attack on Karachi port on the night of 4/5 December 1971 under codename: Trident. The attack sank down Pakistan Navy’s destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz while PNS Shah Jahan was also badly damaged. In retaliation, the Pakistan Navy submarines, Hangor, Mangro, and Shushuk, began their operations to seek out the major Indian warships. On 9 December 1971, Hangor reportedly sank INS Khukri, inflicting 194 Indian casualties, and this attack was the first submarine kill since World War II.
In the eastern theatre of the war, the Indian Eastern Naval Command, under Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan, completely isolated East Pakistan by a naval blockade in the Bay of Bengal, trapping the Eastern Pakistan Navy and eight foreign merchant ships in their ports. From 4 December onwards, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was deployed. To counter this move, PNS Ghazi was launched.
The Ghazi, it was noted would bring down the Indian naval forces with ease and break the confidence of the Indian military. Writing about the war in his book, Major General Fazal Muqeem Khan says that “The plan had all the ingredients of daring and surprise which are essential for success in a situation tilted heavily in favour of the enemy.” On November 14, the Ghazi set sail from Karachi. The Indian Naval Command predicted the release of Ghazi and thought it was primarily necessary for them to protect the most important ship in every way possible. They decided to send off Vikrant to a point that was far enough from the Eastern fleet for the Pakistani ships to effectively combat. In a top secret manner, INS Vikrant along with its convoy was relocated to PORT X-RAY in Andaman and Nicobar. The submarine INS Rajput was deployed by the Indian side to destroy Ghazi. This submarine was sent 165 miles away from Vizag and as a trap for PNS to consider Rajput as Vikrant.