Ground Zero: Prime Minister Modi must clear the mystery about Sikh reference library


harmander sahib attack 1984

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, April 17: The issue of the material including rare books, manuscripts and other artifacts taken away  from the Sikh reference in the Golden Temple complex by the army during Operation Bluestar in June, 1984 continues to be unresolved despite the Akali Dal being part of the government at the centre for the second time during the last three decades.

In the election year, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Avtar Singh Makkar has again raked up this issue saying that repeated requests to the centre have evoked no response.  Most recently, he took up this issue when Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh visited the shrine to pay obeisance. He advised Makkar to send a written request.

It is intriguing as why the issue has not been taken up by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal or Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal  has every right to direct the Chief Minister and the Union Food Processing Minister to pursue this sensitive matter with the government. It may be mentioned that it is Harsimrat who has a brilliant track record of raising every important issue concerning her state in the Lok Sabha.

These rare books and manuscripts were taken away by the army before the library was set on fire. These were never returned although the stand taken by the centre has been to the contrary. The Akali Dal was part of the Atal Behari government. The party has  powerful representation in the present Modi government. Both the Chief Minister and the Union Food Processing Minister can take it up formally so that this issue is closed for ever.

It may be recalled that then SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra had  raised this issue in 1998 in the Rajya Sabha as starred question No 57  that was listed on December 2, 1998.

He asked:

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?


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 olden 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.”

The reply to the starred question is supplied directly to the member.

The issue must be settled once for all and it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who should  make the statement. This is possible only if it is  taken up by Badal and Harsimrat formally.


Jagtar Singh


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