Government on record denied in 1998 taking away rare manuscripts from Golden Temple library

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 14: The government of India in 1998 had taken the position in the context of items taken away from the Sikh reference library that “every article of item removed from the Golden Temple premises has been accounted for by the Army”.

The government made no mention of the rare manuscripts having been removed from the library by the army.

As the issue of material taken away by the army from the Sikh reference library housed in the Golden Temple complex during invasion code-named Operation Bluestar on this most important sacred shrine of the Sikhs in June 1984 continues to surface in the religio-political discourse, this only on the record reply  given by the ministry of defence is the only reference point.

The reply to the starred question No. 57 from Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gurcharan Singh Tohra and was submitted by the government in the Rajya Sabha on December 2, 1998.  Tohra was then member of the Rajya Sabha.

Here was the Question:

“Will the Minister of Defence be pleased to state:-

(a)          Whether it is a fact that some documents/books/manuscripts etc. were removed by the army from the library in the premises of Golden Temple, Amritsar in the first week of June, 1984;

(b)          Whether government are aware that these documents were being used by scholars from all over the world for reference purposes;

(c)           Whether Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has written to government to return all such documents;

(d)          The reaction of the government thereon?

And the Answer:

“The Minister of Defence (Shri George Fernandes)

(A)          to (e) A statement  is laid on the table of the House.

“Statement referred to in reply to Part (A) to (E) of the Rajya Sabha Question No. 57  for 2nd December, 1998.   By his letter dated 9 April 1997 addressed to the Prime Minister of India, the Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, had forwarded an English version of the resolution passed in the general meeting of the SGPC Amritsar held on 28 March 1997 urging upon the government to hand over the histories, documents taken away by the Army in 1984 from Shri  Darbar Sahib,  Amritsar. By a subsequent resolution of the general house of the SGPC  on November 28, 1997, the government of India was asked to restore the SGPC all the documents and  reference books which were removed from the Golden Temple complex by the Army.

“The Army had removed certain items from the premises of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, in 1984. These included passports, office files/documents, booklets, pass books, identity cards, cheque books, registers, shastras (traditional weapons), gold and golden ornaments, silver and silver ornaments, precious stones, semi-precious stones, pearls, currency notes, coins, FDRs and office stationary besides certain items of non-historical value.

“Of these, the Army had handed over some items like passports, office files/documents, booklets, pass books, identity cards, cheque books, diaries, registers to the Central Bureau of Investigation in July 1984 itself. The CBI in turn returned these documents to the authorized representatives of the SGPC in October 1989. A few documents which were objectionable and thus destroyed certain others which were required in connection with the trial (sic). Some other items of historical value mostly shastras (traditional weapons) were handed over by Army to the Curator, Museum, Punjab Government while the valuables such as gold and golden ornaments, silver and silver ornaments, precious stones, semi-precious stones, pearls,  Govt. currency notes worth Rs. 30, 93, 926, coins and FDRs were handed over to the officiating Treasury Officer, Amritsar on June 30, 1984 against proper receipt.

“The Army had also recovered certain items of non-historical value which were kept in the Golden Temple complex itself and disposed of on orders of the late Shri Bhan Singh, then Secretary, SGPC. The Army is now not holding and other documents of historical noser (sic). Every article of item removed from the Golden Temple premises has been accounted for by the Army”.

Complete text has been reproduced here to remove any doubt about the position of the government on this sensitive issue.

There is no mention of rare manuscripts and hand written Birs of Guru Granth Sahib in this reply.

 Akali Dal now has the most powerful representation ever in the government at the centre.

This is the right time to settle this issue once and for all.

This is a challenge for Akali Dal president and MP Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife and food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Can the Akali Dal move for the closure of at least one issue relating to Operation Bluestar? There has been enough politics over this tragedy.

Jagtar Singh

+91-9779711201

jagtarsingh201@gmail.com

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