Lt General JFR Jacob, (retd), hero of the 1971 India Pakistan war, explains why the Indian Navy destroyed documents related to the sinking of the Pakistani submarine, PNS Ghazi.
Earlier this month, there were reports that all documents connected with the sinking of the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi during the 1971 war had been destroyed by the Indian Navy.
It is not difficult to conjecture the reasons why.
Back in November 1971, our signal intercept units had been monitoring the movements of the Ghazi on her entering the Bay of Bengal. The last intercept we got from the Ghazi was on 27 November. We had been passing on all intercepts to the Navy.
PNS Ghazi blew up due to an internal explosion while laying mines off the port of Vishakapatnam, probably at the end of November or the beginning of December 1971.
On December 3, I received a call from Vice Admiral Krishnan, Commander of the Eastern Naval Command, who said that fishermen had found some floating wreckage, and that he had gone to the site where the wreckage was found.
Among the debris was a lifebelt with 'Diablo' printed on it. Diablo was the name of the United States Navy submarine that was transferred to the Pakistan Navy and renamed Ghazi.
Krishnan said he had no doubt that the wreckage was that of the Ghazi and that the sinking of the Ghazi was an act of God. He stated that the Navy was unaware that the Ghazi had sunk. He had rewarded the fishermen who had found the wreckage. I told him that there was no threat now to the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, which had been the prime target of the Ghazi.
On the morning of December 4, Krishnan again called me, asking if I had sent a report on the Ghazi. I replied in the negative, saying that as it was a naval matter, I had presumed that he had done so. He seemed relieved and told me that I should forget our conversation of the previous day and that he was in discussions with the Navy chief, Admiral SM Nanda, in Delhi.
On December 9, the Navy announced that they had sunk the Ghazi on December 4, after the start of the war. Later, officers were decorated for their role and the offensive action of their ships in the sinking of the Ghazi.
After the war, however, teams of divers confirmed that it was an internal explosion that sank the Ghazi. The log of the Ghazi was recovered and the last entry as far as I can recall was on November 29, 1971. Sadly, that too has been destroyed.
The Navy had earlier decided to change the date of Navy Day to December 4, the day they had proclaimed that they had sunk the Ghazi.
But I had spoken to the press regarding the sinking of the Ghazi and later published my conversations with Vice Admiral Krishnan in my book 'Surrender at Dacca' in 1997. The Navy then realised that they could no longer maintain their claims to have sunk the Ghazi on December 4.
The Navy then went on to state that December 4, the new date for Navy Day, marked the start of the war. For the record, the war started on December 3 at 1800 hours, when Pakistan bombed our airfields.
As the old saying goes, truth is the first casualty in war.
General JFR Jacob played a critical role in the 1971 India Pakistan war as the Eastern Command Chief.
Top picture: The Pride of the Pakistani Navy, PNS Ghazi which sank off the Visakhapatnam Coast while laying mines during the 1971 war. Photograph courtesy Bharat-Rakshak.com
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