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114 grenades dug out from SGPC complex
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 10
In a chance recovery, as many as 114 live grenades and three boxes containing explosives were recovered while digging the foundations of the new administrative block in the SGPC complex, here today. The ammunition is believed to have been dumped by Babbar Khalsa International, before Operation Bluestar.

The building once housed the office of the then Shiromani Akali Dal president late Sant Harchand Singh Longowal who had close links with the Babbar Khalsa organisation.

However, Sant Longowal who had signed the ‘Punjab accord’ on July 24, 1985, with the then Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi , was later killed in the terrorist attack on August 20, 1985.

Interestingly, the foundation stone of the new administrative block was laid by the former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur on November 7 last year. The building which was being used for ‘langar’ by Babas of Karsewawale was got vacated by the SGPC for constructing the administrative block.

The big consignment of grenades, which look like H.E. 36, could not be detected by the Army during Operation Bluestar in 1984 and Operation Black Thunder in 1988. After the Army action the SGPC complex remained under the control of the Army till September 1985. A big portion of the Darbar Sahib was handed over to the SGPC on September 29, a day before the ultimatum served on the Army by the Sikh clergy.

However, S.P. (City), Mr Koushtab Sharma, said the make of the grenade could not be ascertained since nothing was legible.

However, GC 5044/ 1943 is written on the grenades. He said the HE 36 grenades are manufactured in government’s Ordinance factory

Sources in the SGPC believe that Babbar activists who were experts in handling hand grenades and explosives had moved to this building when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwala had taken refuge in the Akal Takht building on November 16, 1983, about seven months before the Army operation. Sant Bhinderanwale and Babbar Khalsa were at loggerheads at that time.

The police has cordoned off the building and sniffer dogs were pressed into service. However, without waiting for the army’s bomb disposal squad, the police took away the grenades to Galliwara Chowki, near Harmander Sahib on the information provided by Baba Harbans Singh of Baba Jagtar Singh Karsewawale. The police has registered a case under section 4/5 of the Explosives Act .

The SGPC secretary, Mr Dalmegh Singh, said he could not say anything as to who the grenades belonged since the Darbar Sahib complex remained under Army control for a long time.

Some feel that the grenades might have been dumped when the complex was under the control of Damdami Taksal following the first Sarbat Khalsa, held here on January 26, 1986. The Sarbat Khalsa had decided to demolish the Akal Takht building which was renovated at behest of the Central government.

Later, when the Barnala government was in power the police entered the SGPC complex on April 30, 1987. Activists of various Sikh organisations were in full control of the complex till it was cleared in Operation Black Thunder on May 9, 1988.

The construction of the new administrative block has been stopped and it would be restarted under the supervision of the police to avert any mishap.

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