Indira Gandhi: The Prime Minister who took Pakistan and its Allies by Horns in the 1971 war

Indira Gandhi was the first and only lady Prime Minister of India. She is known as the iron lady of India for the hard-hitting decisions she took as the Prime Minister of Independent Bharat (India).

Indira Gandhi: The Iron Lady Of India

Indira Gandhi was born on 19th November 1917, In the Prayagraj district of Uttar Pradesh, earlier known as Allahabad. Gandhi fought her first general elections in the year 1967 as a candidate of the Indian National Congress (INC) for the Lok Sabha.

Indira Gandhi won the election and became the Lok Sabha representative from the Raebareli constituency. Gandhi performed her duties as the Prime Minister of India from January 1966 to March 1977.

Indira served again as the PM from January 1980 to October 1984 until her assassination by her own bodyguards on 31st October 1984. Satwant Singh and Beant Singh killed Indira Gandhi for carrying out Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple of the Harmandir Sahib.

Operation Blue Star was ordered by Indira Gandhi to throw away Khalistani separatist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from Golden Temple premises. The Operation was carried out by the Indian Army and took place between 1st June and 8th June 1984.

Operation Searchlight: The Operation that led to the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War

The President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan ordered Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan on the night of March 25th, 1971. The purpose of Operation Searchlight was to curb the Bengali Nationalist Movement in erstwhile East Pakistan. Operation Searchlight cost the lives of millions of Bengalis, women were raped, and Religious minorities were killed.

The accurate figure of Casualties due to Operation Searchlight cannot be determined because of strong censorship and foreign journalists were compelled to leave East Pakistan before the operation. But, some journalists took the risk and remained in hiding.

From the report of Simon Dring Published in the Daily Telegraph on 29th March, it was revealed that almost 200 students of Dhaka University were killed in Iqbal Hall of the University, and teachers and their family members were also killed. More than 700 people were burnt to death in old Dhaka.

Operation Searchlight took almost 7000 Bengali lives in Dhaka city only on the night of 25th March 1971. The genocide and rapes done by the Pakitan army led Bengalis to flee to India, which caused a refugee crisis in India. To stop this cultural and ethnic cleansing done by Pakistan Army, Indira Gandhi ordered Indian Military intervention.

Bangladesh Liberation War

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the political leader of East Pakistan declared Independence on 26th March 1971, following the violence unleashed by the Pakistan Army on 25th March under Operation Searchlight. He also called upon the people of Bangladesh to resist and fight the occupation forces of Pakistan through a radio message.

The declaration of Independence on 26th March 1971 by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the beginning of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Bengali freedom fighters formed The Mukti Bahini, a guerrilla resistance movement to fight the atrocities of the Pakistan Army.

India played a very crucial role in the Bangladesh Liberation War by aiding Mukti Bahini. Indian Army trained Mukti Bahini in weapon training, commando training, ambushes, espionage, and wireless communication under Operation Jackpot.

Two Cops of Assam Police, Jnanananda Sarma Pathak, and Biraja Nanda Choudhury were deputed to Special Security Bureau (SSB) and tasked with the training of Mukti Bahini. Besides Jnanananda Sarma Pathak, and Biraja Nanda Choudhury other IPS officers of the Assam cadre were engaged in training Mukti Bahini.

One such officer was Hiranya Kumar Bhattacharyya, who was invited to Bangladesh in the year 2013 and was awarded the War of Liberation Honour for his role in training Mukti Bahini in close combat tactics.

The story of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war

The 1971 war between India and Pakistan took place as a result of a political battle between erstwhile East Pakistan of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and leaders of West Pakistan Yahya Khan and Julfikar Ali Bhutto. The 1971 war finally began on 3rd December and continued till 16th December until the fall of Dhaka.

The 1971 Indo-Pakistan war began with Pakistan’s operation Chengiz Khan, under this operation Pakistani Air Force carried out a preemptive aerial strike on 11 forward airbases and radar installations of the Indian Air Force. Operation Chengiz Khan carried out by PAF on the evening of 3rd December was the beginning of the 1971 War.

In the War of 1971 America and Britain stood by the Pakistani side and helped them with weapons and logistics support. They even tried to pressurize India for a ceasefire but Indira Gandhi didn’t bow down. 

On the 5th of December 1971, the US tabled a resolution in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the Immediate ceasefire between India and Pakistan. Russia vetoed the resolution and put a full stop to the immoral intentions of the US and Pakistan Army.

On the 10th of December, Indian intelligence intercepted an American message indicating that the US Seventh Fleet was entering the war zone. The only thing standing between the 7th fleet and India was the Indian Navy’s INS Vikrant which was ready to take on the mighty 7th fleet of the US Navy.

America sent the 7th fleet of the US navy and Britain dispatched its Aircraft Carrier HMS Eagle to the Arabian Sea to help the Pakistan Army and intimidate India. In response to American and British intervention in the war, Indira Gandhi wrote a letter to Soviet Russia seeking help.

Indira Gandhi signed the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation with Soviet Russia on 9th August 1971. As per the norms of the Indo-Soviet Treaty Russia was bound to help India in case of any Military intervention.

Read About: 1947 Partition of Indian Subcontinent, Birth Of A New State: Pakistan and Millions of people killed

On the 13th of December, Russia dispatched nuclear-armed ships and atomic Submarines from Vladivostok under the command of Admiral Vladimir Kruglyakov. In that era, the range of Russian missiles was less than 300 KM. So, to counter the US and British fleets Russian commanders undertake the risk and encircled them to bring them within the target range.

The presence of the Russian atomic Submarines and Battleships spooked the British and US forces. The British Aircraft Carrier HMS Eagle retreated towards Madagascar, and the US forces abandoned their plan of entering the Bay of Bengal.

The war continued and on 16th December Pakistan Army led by General A.A.K. Niazi along with his 93,000 soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army under the gaze of Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Arora. This was the biggest surrender after World War II. It took 14 days for the Indian Army to create a new nation out of Pakistan, which is known as Bangladesh.

In the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, India suffered more than 12,000 casualties out of which 2908 Bravehearts laid down their lives serving Ma Bharti.


Indira Gandhi didn’t bow down to the bullies like the US and the British. Indian Army took the 1971 war to its end result and on 16th December Pakistan Army led by General A.A.K. Niazi along with his 93,000 soldiers surrendered before the Indian Army.

Bangladesh got Independence from the occupation forces of Pakistan. Pakistan Army created a world record for the biggest unconditional surrender after World War II.

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