AMRITSAR, Sept 8: The control of the Golden Temple complex was formally handed over to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) here on Thursday.

According to official sources, the SGPC has been handed over the serai area which includes the Akal rest house, Ramdass Serai, Guru Nanak Niwas and Teja Singh Samundari Hall which houses the SGPC offices.

However, security forces would remain on the first and second floors of the Akal rest house and Ramdass Serai.

The security forces were in control of the serai area since Operation Black Thunder. The SGPC had temporarily shifted its offices to the Guru Ramdass hospital on the outskirts of the walled city when the operation began in May.

The SGPC secretary, Mr. Manjit Singh Calcutta, confirmed the handing over of the shrine to the Committee.

He denied that the Government had laid down any condition for the handover. “We are not answerable to the Government but to the Sikh Panth,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr. Puran Singh Johan SGPC executive member challenged the SGPC secretary’s contention saying that by accepting the precondition for the stay of the security forces in the complex area, “the SGPC has lowered the prestige of the shrines.”

He said “the manner in which the temple is being handed over to the SGPC amounts to undermining the reputation of the SGPC and also of the Sikh Panth,” he said.

Mr. Calcutta said the SGPC held several rounds of talks with the Government authorities before the Golden Temple complex was handed over to it.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 16, 1988