Reacting to the Centre's stay on the execution of Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balwant Singh Rajoana, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said on Wednesday that the prayers of the entire Sikh community had been heard.
"Our ardas (prayers) has been heard by the waheguru (god)," the Jathedar said."It is through the joint efforts of the entire community that the death sentence of Rajoana has been stayed," Gurbachan Singh said, pointedly praising chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for their efforts in petitioning President Pratibha Patil for clemency to Rajoana, a convict in the former chief minister Beant Singh assassination case, who was due to hang in Patiala Central Jail on Saturday.
The jathedar appealed to all Sikh religious, social and political organisations to suspend all protest programmes and marches they had planned against the hanging orders.
He also thanked the entire Sikh community and all Punjabis for "giving support" to Wednesday's bandh call and maintaining peace.
The Akal Takht on March 23 issued a hukamnama (an edict), directing the chief minister, deputy chief minister and SGPC chief to petition the President for staying the hanging of Rajoana and seeking his unconditional release from prison.
Sikh radical groups have suspended their proposed Khalsa marches which were to be taken out from the Akal Takht (Amritsar), Takht Keshgarh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib) and Takht Damdama Sahib (Bathinda) to Patiala on Thursday and Friday.
"We have suspended the protest marches," Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh said, speaking on behalf of the Khalsa Action Committee and Shiromani Panthic Council.He, however, described the staying of the execution as a "temporary relief" for the community.
"Let us see if at the end of the day we get justice," he said. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar welcomed the move. "We are extremely grateful to the President," he said.
"People from all walks of life and irrespective of their beliefs lent support to the bandh called for staying the hanging of Rajoana," he said.
SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur said, "It is a welcome step and we hope it will reach its logical conclusion and Rajoana will not be sent to the gallows."