It has been thirty seven years since the Sikh Reference library got destroyed during Indian Army’s operation Bluestar. The official narrative on destruction of Reference library is that it got destroyed during the operation on the night of 6th June, 1984. However the eye witness accounts have narrated a different story. Late Joginder Singh Vedanti, who also became Jathedar of Akal Takht was present in Harmandir Sahib and he records that trucks were loaded with material from Sikh Reference library during the early morning of 6th June, 1984. Giani Pooran Singh records that Reference library was set on fire after removal of manuscripts, books and rare documents. In one of his interviews post the military operation he said that there were no burnt papers in the library, the iron shelves were there but lockers were missing.
There has been ambiguity on what actually happened to the articles that went missing from the Sikh Reference library. SGPC which is the major Sikh body has stayed silent on the missing articles for 37yrs. Not only the articles, the institution never opened up the bullet ridden Saroop of Guru Garanth Sahib Ji for Sangat. With election season around the corner in Punjab, SGPC which is often seen as subsidiary of SAD has tried to woo Sikh votes or the Panthic block. The silence on missing articles has been broken as well.
In reply to one petition filed by Satinder Singh against SGPC where he has quoted the former library director Anurag Singh, SGPC has cleared that it is looking into the matter. Anurag Singh has claimed that army has returned some material to the Sikh Institution but it has failed to inform Sangat about the same. SGPC maintains that there has been no transaction where materials have been returned. SGPC has constituted a committee to look into the allegations filed by the petitioner. It should be noted that this is the 3rd committee since 2003 that has been set up to look into the matter. One of the members of the committee Kiranjot Kaur tells me that SGPC has never been keeping its record straight with respect to the library. She claims that even though a report is being prepared in consultation with former staffers but there is still lot of ambiguity on the materials missing and returned.
Another important and shocking revelation is that there has been no conclusion of first three committees constituted by SGPC. Late Joginder Singh Vedanti during his tenure as the Jathedar also tried to tighten the rope around SGPC and told the organisation to submit the report within fixed period of time. Many in the SGPC who don’t want to be named claim that SGPC has not treated the issue on priority basis.
The last meeting of sub committee formed on June 13, 2020 to look into the issue was in April 2021. The present state of Sikh Reference library was reviewed and it was decided to prepare a list of items that are missing. It should be noted that even though there are multiple records to indicate the missing articles, SGPC still lives in ambiguity on the list of missing items. It was also decided in the meeting to find out the materials that were returned to the library. The librarians however are still in denial about the materials (at least in public).
Former secretary Kulwant singh has questioned SGPC on its stunning silence about the issue that matters the most to Sikhs. He said, “Sikhs across the globe need answers to the questions. It has been 37yrs and we still don’t have clarity on what has been returned and what is missing.”
Another member of the interim committee Amrik Singh has revealed that there is sure sign that some material has been missing after it was returned by the state. Amrik singh said that the culprits will be punished and held accountable. He said that they will be nominated as Panth Doshi.
Kulwant singh has revealed that former librarians Balbir singh and Hardeep singh have been questioned and registers with logs have been locked for the probe into the issue. The interim committee consisting of Amrik singh, Kiranjot Kaur, Dr. Amar singh has promised to get down to the issue and reveal the details to Sikhs within the period of six months.