Date: 10/21/2004


CBI Probe Ordered Into Missing Sikh Manuscripts

[India News]: Chandigarh, Oct 7 : The Indian government has ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to trace hundreds of rare religious books, manuscripts and other things that went "missing" from the Golden Temple complex in 1984.

Following directions from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CBI would hold a time-bound probe for recovering the missing Sikh religious treasure.

The rare things went missing after the controversial Indian Army operation of June 1984 aimed at flushing out Sikh militants from the complex.

Union Home Secretary Dhirendra Singh ordered the CBI probe in New Delhi on Wednesday. Officials from home and defence ministries, Punjab government and Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) - the mini-parliament of Sikhs - were present at the meeting.

It was reported that CBI officials were reluctant to take over the probe as the records went missing 20 years ago.

The investigating agency has been asked to complete its probe speedily. The SGPC had been demanding the return of these treasures from the Indian Army.

SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh said a list of the missing 10,534 religious books, manuscripts and relics had been submitted to the central government. These include centuries old hand-written manuscripts penned down by Sikh scholars.

Though the Indian Army and the defence ministry have not made any statement on the missing records in the last two decades, officials said that many of the things could be recovered.

"These could be in the custody of some army units that carried out operations inside the Golden Temple complex," a senior official said here.

No one, however, is expecting all the things to be recovered.

Manmohan Singh - the first Sikh to be elevated to the country's most important political job - had assured the Sikh community and leadership Sept 1 that his government would try to get the records recovered.

He had come to the Sikh holy city of Amritsar to participate in the 400th anniversary celebrations of Sikh holy book - Guru Granth Sahib.

SGPC officials praised Singh Thursday saying that he was personally following up each of the assurances he made to the community during his maiden visit to Amritsar - once his hometown - last month.

Besides the recovery of the rare records, Singh had asked federal agencies to speed up work on the Corridor Project around the Golden Temple complex.

--Indo-Asian News Service