Majid Kapra

Pro-freedom slogans rock Sri Sri’s function; organisers accused of cheating

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Srinagar, March 10: Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC), the venue for a peace program organized by ‘The Art of Living Foundation’ Saturday reverberated with ‘pro-freedom’ slogans forcing the chief guest Sri Sri Ravi Shanker to cut-short his speech and leave.

As soon as Sri Sri started his speech, people who had arrived from different parts of the Valley, stood up and left the venue amid pro-freedom and pro-militant sloganeering.

“We were deceived by the organizers who brought us here and made us wait since morning. They brought us here to participate in the program with assurance that our issues will be looked into,” said Abid Hussain from central Budgam.

He said that he reached the venue at around 9 am with the hope that his younger brother, who was arrested on charges of stone pelting, will be released, but he was crestfallen the moment he was made to sit in the audience to listen to Sri Sri.

“I did not come here to listen to Sri Sri; I was assured that he will take up my brother’s issue with the government, but I felt deceived after being made to sit in the audience,” he added.

Safeena, an Anganwari worker, said she was asked to participate in the event and at the same time raise the issues and problems they have been witnessing.

“I was unaware as to what is going to happen. I along with my friend reached SKICC at 8 am and was happy that our issues including that of salary and regularization will be looked into. However, I felt embarrassed when I came to know that we were fooled,” she said.

Some other angry participants said they had been cheated by the organisers who had promised them that their bank loans would be waived off at the function.

Others said they had been invited for distribution of sewing machines among them.

Meanwhile addressing a press conference at Hotel Grand Lalit here, Sri Sri while acknowledging sufferings of the people of Kashmir said “I stand against injustice meted out to the people anywhere.”

Expressing sympathies with the families of civilians killed at the hands of Army personnel in Shopian recently, he said his organization will “help the victim families to come out of the shock”.

“I deeply sympathize to those who lost their dear ones, and will see what we can do to make them come out of the trauma. My heart bleeds whenever any civilian or army personnel is killed anywhere,” he added.

He said that his organization works in every conflict region with a different agenda and his motive to organize today program in Kashmir was to spread message of peace and love.

“I am very clear on this issue we are here to work on human issues and sufferings,” Sri Sri said.

He also said talks are the only way to resolve all issues and the people of Kashmir should forget past and focus on future.

“I think talks are the only medium to resolve issues. Where there is injustice talks are must. We wish to help youth and that’s why we are here and work silently,” said Sri Sri.

On being asked about Supreme Courts stay on FIR registered against an Army official for killing civilians in Shopian, he said since he is “preacher of peace” he cannot act as advocate.

“I am brining love and togetherness in people, I am a peace preacher and not going to advocate for anybody, but where there is injustice I wish to stand against that. We should move ahead, this is my message; we need not to look back; we must move on with renewed enthusiasm, we have to think about future,” said he.

On being asked why he is not using his closeness with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impress on him to initiate political dialogue on Kashmir, Sri Sri said “I am neither close nor far from anyone. I would like to reiterate that where there is injustice and pain, I stand with them.”

On being asked that people were fraudulently made to participate in his event on different pretexts, he said he was invited in Kashmir and has no bearing as to what was conveyed to the people.

“I am going to meet people from different places tomorrow; will meet different groups, will listen to them; I want to create an atmosphere of love and harmony and for that everyone needs to extend their support,” said Sri Sri.

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