Published On: Sun, Mar 11th, 2018

At Ravi Shankar’s Srinagar event, slogans, quick exits

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sri-sri-ravi-shankarSrinagar : Minutes into his speech on the grounds of Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre on Saturday, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar told the audience, “If we hold on to the past, we will be unhappy. We should look forward and move on.” At that moment, pro-freedom slogans were raised and many began to leave.

Ravi Shankar was was speaking at an event, ‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’, on the invitation of J&K Coordination Committee (JKCC), seeking to find “a lasting solution to the age-old Kashmir conflict”. He was barely seven minutes into his speech when people began to leave. Thereafter, the event was abruptly ended by the organisers.

At least 1,000 people had gathered at the venue, with some of them waiting for over five hours. But many of them said they were misled into attending the event. “I was told they will give out cricket kits. I am waiting here since 9 am. We were not told that they were bringing a spiritual guru to address us,” said Hashim. Others said they were told they would be given jobs or loan waivers.

At a press meet after the event, Ravi Shankar stated that he came on the invitation of JKCC. “I was not aware of what the people who were asked to attend were told. I came to listen to people’s problems and it does not have to be from the stage. I will meet them in groups,” he said, adding that his message was to “move on from the past and plan the future with a different mindset”.

Emphasising that he was not a spokesman of the government, he said, “What happened in Shopian was injustice. Wherever I am needed to bring peace, I will be there.”  He was referring to the death of four civilians in Shopian on February 4. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that civilians were “caught in crossfire”.

According to Art of Living, JKCC comprises a group of people who attended a similar event in Bengaluru on November 10. “They were keen that Gurudev speak in Kashmir. They formed this Coordination Committee and the invited people,” Ajay Kapoor, an AoL representative, said.

Sheikh Imran, who leads social outfit People’s Alliance that is part of JKCC, said, “We are in a leadership crisis in Kashmir. We wanted an advocate for peace and Ravi Shankar has been advocating peace for Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan…people look up to him. That’s why we arranged for him to address a larger audience here. A few people raising slogans does not matter. He was received well and he will meet delegations on Sunday as well.”

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