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Op Bluestar: Army does not have manuscripts, other items missing from Golden Temple, says Centre

In reply to a plea by Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi on July 7, the ministry said about the manuscripts, purportedly found during the operation to flush out militants from the Sikh shrine in Amritsar, that these “were handed over to Mohan Singh, curator, museum, Punjab government”. 

punjab Updated: Jul 22, 2017 09:22 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Op Bluestar,Golden Temple,Indian Army
On June 6, 1984, over 1,000 lives were claimed during Operation Bluestar, the raid on Sikh’s holiest shrine Golden Temple to cow down extremists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. This November 22, 1984, photo shows kar sewa (voluntary service) for repairs at the Golden Temple. (KK Chawla/HT File Photo)

The Indian Army does not possess any manuscripts and other historical documents reportedly missing from the Golden Temple after Operation Bluestar in 1984, the defence ministry has said. It claims the manuscripts and other items were handed over to the state government and other agencies; but it mentions no dates.

In reply to a plea by Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi on July 7, the ministry said about the manuscripts, purportedly found during the operation to flush out militants from the Sikh shrine in Amritsar, that these “were handed over to Mohan Singh, curator, museum, Punjab government”.It further stated, “Other items were handed over to functionaries of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC); government treasurer, Amritsar; and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).”

The SGPC says 15,000 rare books, 16,000 artefacts related to Sikh religion and history, edicts issued by the 10 gurus, and handwritten ‘birs’ (copies) of Guru Granth Sahib were among the items missing.

Army men take positions from a building adjoining the Golden Temple during the operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister, to remove Sikh separatists who were amassing weapons in the temple in 1984. (India Today Group/Getty Images)

Gandhi said he, for now, only wanted the ministry to bring the issue of missing documents on record, which he has achieved. In the latest in his series of efforts, he had written to home minister Rajnath Singh for return of the material, but his plea was shifted to the defence ministry on May 31.

Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi (HT File Photo)

“I will meet SGPC officials now to approach the Centre again to trace the documents, which are not only a treasure for the Sikh community but also for Hindus and Punjab as a whole,” said the MP, who was elected to the Lok Sabha on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket but remains suspended from it due to differences with its leadership.

SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar, when contacted, said the central ministries have been “lying repeatedly over such sensitive issues”.

“Where are the rare manuscripts and documents then, if the army claims to have not taken them away?” he asked.

The state government, besides the SGPC, have approached the Centre on multiple occasions over the years for “return” of the items held at the Sikh Reference Library in the Golden Temple complex till June 7, 1984, when the operation ended. But the defence ministry had said all material seized was handed over to intelligence agencies.

The matter had come to light prominently when a former sub-inspector associated with the CBI in 1984 had claimed that the material was shifted to an undisclosed location by the army and CBI officials.

First Published: Jul 21, 2017 19:33 IST