Even 25 years after Operation Bluestar, the controversy over missing Sikh manuscripts from the Golden Temple’s Sikh Reference Library refuses to die down.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday asked the Centre to come clean and treat the issue with respect as Sikh sentiments were involved.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandak Committee (SGPC) is up in arms ever since defence minister AK Anthony told Rajya Sabha last week that the army did not possess the documents.
He said all the items recovered from the Golden Temple had been handed over to the SGPC, Amritsar and its functionaries, curator museum, Punjab government treasurer, department of cultural affairs, Chandigarh and CBI, New Delhi.
“Representatives of the SGPC have certified that they have no further claim on the army or government,” Antony said in reply to a query.
MP Tirlochan Singh has asked the SGPC to confirm it gave any such undertaking, as Antony says.
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said Anthony was telling a “white lie” and demanded he be sacked for “misleading” parliament. He said only a few books and copies of newspapers were returned a few years ago.
The then Punjab chief secretary’s affidavit mentions gold coins/ornaments among artefacts the army recovered from the library.
Former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra said about 10,500 books and 500 original manuscripts were “still in the possession of the CBI or the Centre”. The manuscripts included hand-written hukumnamas (edicts) of Guru Hargobind Singh and Guru Gobind Singh and the old SGPC record compiled since 1920, Tohra had said.
Makkar said Tohra took it up with the NDA and then defence minister George Fernandes said the entire matter was with the CBI.
Makkar, in fact, got retired CBI inspector Ranjit Singh Nanda to testify that he was part of a 5-member CBI team that stacked away rare manuscripts and books to the local youth hostel after proper cataloguing. These were then taken to an unknown place.
Nanda said the CBI was, in fact, looking for a purported letter from then prime minister Indira Gandhi to Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He said he found some letters from Jagjit Singh Chouhan and others to Bhindranwale.
He said he found some letters from Jagjit Singh Chouhan and others to Bhindranwale. He claimed he had enough proof to substantiate his claim that the CBI took invaluable material from the Sikh Reference Library.
Makkar recalled then assistant librarian of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Santokh Singh Sheharyar, saying that the army took away over 20,000 books worth Rs20 lakh, 2,500 handwritten volumes of holy Sikh scriptures, 500 handwritten rare books and documents relating to Sikh tenets and traditions and 200 typed copies of rare books/documents from the Sikh Reference Library.
He said rare journals and periodicals, 18 volumes pertaining to paintings, and other material were still missing.