Committee formed for Recovery of the Sikh Reference Library material

SRLDuring Indian Army attack (codenamed Operation Blue Star), on the Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht (Amritsar) in June 1984, the cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Sikhs was destroyed intentionally. The Sikh Reference Library in the Golden Temple complex was also attacked, looted and taken away by the Indian army. And a rumour was spread that the library was destroyed in fire during the army operation. But many eminent Sikhs made it public that the library was looted by the army and taken away in bags and trunks. For the last 25 years, no serious attempt was made by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to list:

 i.   the documents, books and manuscripts etc taken away by the army

ii.   the artefacts etc returned by the army to the SGPC

iii.  the number of articles still to be recovered from the army and its outfits

iv.  the loot of paintings from the Central Sikh Museum and their whereabouts

v.   the relics of the Tosha-khana taken away by the army and their return, if any.

Buta Singh, the then Union Home Minister, confessed before the former jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Giani Kirpal Singh that the army carried 125 bags away. In a case (writ petition 11301 of 2003), decided on April 26, 2004 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the following points emerged that:

a)     Ranjit Singh Nanda handed over the books to Manjit Singh Calcutta, and pictures of this handing over ceremony were published in daily Ajit in 1987.

b)    The library material was filled in 190 bags and taken to the CBI headquarters at Youth Hostel and every bag was numbered with black ink.

c)     After thorough check-up and sorting out all the items plundered from the Darbar Sahib, a list of 160/165 bags made.

d)    Out of the looted items, some hand written Pothis (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and Hukam-namas returned.

e)     All the bags were put in 12 big trunks specially made by a firm situated in front of the Golden Temple complex in Kathia bazaar.

f)       The Hukam-namas (of Sikh Gurus and holy mothers) were delivered back in 1991 and entered at Serial Nos 7034-7062 of 1991 and earlier these were entered at Nos 6222-6266.

g)    The army had handed over about 4000 documents to the CBI in case No RC/2/84 (CBI, New Delhi).

h)    Some historical items were handed over to Mohan Singh, the Curator, Punjab Government Museum on 13-9-1984

i)       Like wise some precious items, including Gold, Silver, and cash in lacks were handed over to Kailash Sharma, then officiating Treasury Officer, Amritsar.

Intriguingly, the SGPC, for all these 25 years, has not categorically denied these facts. With elections round the corner, this issue, which is very serious and sensitive, is again being made a subject of political matter of political gimmicks from both the sides. Claims and counter-claims are being made to mislead the entire Sikh community and the world at large. Of late, SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar has demanded that Union defence minister A.K. Antony should be expelled from the Parliament as he allegedly hurt the sentiments of Sikh community as he has given unaccountable statement claiming that the SGPC was returned all the rare Sikh manuscripts and original religious books that were taken away by the Indian Army during the operation Blue star in 1984.

While the real facts ought to be ascertained, one thing is very clear that both the parties appear to be wrong. The SGPC is partly wrong as it has already, officially acknowledged the receipt of some of the items of the sacred library with a note that it has no other claim, seemingly in connivance with the Government of India.

More intriguing is the fact that some of the returned rare items are missing from the sacred place, these missing rare artefacts, including hand-written birs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Hukam-namas.

In order to unearth the truth, Panthic organizations have constituted a five-member fact Finding Committee comprising Kartar Singh Gill, D S Gill, Gurtej Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Advocate Amar Singh Chahal. The Committee shall complete its report within a month. If need be, the Committee will initiate necessary legal proceedings to achieve the end.

Among those who participated in the meet were Harpal Singh Cheema, Principal Khushal Singh, Bhai Mandhir Singh, Puran Singh Hundal and Surinder Singh Kisanpura.

The meeting was jointly convened by Shiromani Akali Dal (Presidium), International Sikh Confederation and International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO). Bhai Daljit chairman of presidium of the SADA concluded the meet and announced the committee.

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