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George Fernandes admits Army removed items from Golden Temple during Operation B

AMRITSAR, MAY 24: The Central Government has for the first time acknowledged the claim of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) that the Army had taken away valuable historical books, paintings and other material during Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Defence Minister George Fernandes yesterday wrote to SGPC Secretary Gurbachan Singh Bachan saying the books and documents that had been picked up from the Golden Temple library had been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the Army authorities. He has asked the SGPC to take up the matter with the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension since the CBI comes under the jurisdiction of that ministry.

The SGPC has been writing to the Central Government for more than 12 years now, urging it to acknowledge that the Army had taken away important documents from the Sikh Reference Library inside the Golden Temple.

It had claimed that the library had a rich treasure of rare documents, books and manuscripts pertaining to the Sikh religion and the history and culture of Punjab besides material on the people of South-East Asia.

The SGPC had alleged that the Army had depleted the library with the ``evil design'' of depriving the Sikhs access to their glorious heritage. It had also alleged that to cover up this act, the library had been later burnt down.

In a recent letter to Fernandes, Bachan had said the Army had taken the material to the Youth Hostel in Amritsar, where `share cataloguing' was done. He stated that on September 2, 1984, on the eve of a Sikh convention, the Army stopped its cataloguing work, packed the entire material into 20 trunks and some jute gunny bags and had it carted away by the CBI.

Bachan said the SGPC had started correspondence with the Prime Minister in 1988 and some material was returned to the temple. However, he added, 90 per cent of the material continued to be with the Government and is reportedly lying at the Meerut Army Cantonment.

The SGPC had written to the Centre last in April.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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