The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has demanded that the BJP-led government at the centre immediately hand over all the "treasures" allegedly seized from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar during Operation Bluestar, ordered by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 to flush out Sikh terrorists. It has also sought regular pension for personnel who quit the armed forces to protest the controversial military intervention that caused damage to the holy structure and resulted in the death of nearly 500 people.
A SAD delegation led by party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal placed the demands before Union Home Minister Amit Shah today. "The Sikh community is eagerly awaiting the return of the precious treasures that were taken away by the army during the attack," he told reporters after the meeting. "This includes holy scriptures, artefacts, thousands of historical books from the Sikh Reference Library, and relics belonging to Sri Guru Sahib and other Sikh personalities. They should be returned to the community with due honour."
Mr Badal also pointed out that around 100 of the 309 Sikh personnel who left the Army in protest against the attack on the Golden Temple were still alive. "We humbly requested that they be rehabilitated, and pension benefits be extended to them. This will send out a positive message to the aggrieved Sikh community," he said.
The SAD leader also said that the central government would organise gala celebrations on the 550th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Dev four months from now. This would include taking out a Nagar Kirtan from India to Nankana Sahib -- the birthplace of Guru Nanak -- in Pakistan.
"We have requested that this event be organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. The government should also liaison with the Pakistan government for successfully conducting the Nagar Kirtan," he said.
The Nagar Kirtan involves the processional singing of holy hymns by Sikh devotees.