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Sikh holy book retrieved from submerged New Orleans gurdwara
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September 10, 2005 16:51 IST

A copy of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs, was retrieved from a submerged gurdwara in New Orleans in the United States, where hurricane Katrina caused large-scale destruction, after an over 22-hour rescue operation by Sikh volunteers.

The gurdwara on Morris Road, East New Orleans, built about 15 years ago, was under nine-feet deep water when voluteers of the United Sikhs group led by rescue experts carried out the operation.

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The holy book could not be removed from the gurdwara before mandatory evacuation orders were issue, the group said in a statement.

After requesting government agencies for recovery of the holy scriptures from the submerged gurdwara, the United Sikhs sought the help of one of its volunteer Ranbir Kaur, a US Army National Guard, to hire the rescue services of SRT, a private helicopter special response and training firm of California.

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It took 3 days to obtain clearance from different agencies before SRT could access the flood affected area.

The United Sikhs rescue squad comprising Hardayal Singh and Bhai Nirmal Singh teamed up with air force rescue experts David Cruz and Tom Bausmas of SRT to remove the Guru Granth Sahib in an operation that lasted over a period of 22 hours and ended on September 7, the statement said.

Zodiac Boats equipped with under water cameras and rescue equipment were used to reach the flooded gurdwara which was completely damaged inside but Guru Granth Sahib was on the 'palki' (palanquin) and floating on water.

"I was amazed, looking at the Guru Sahib's 'sukhasan' on the palki, floating on 5 feet of water and untouched by the flood waters," Hardayal Singh was quoted as saying.

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