Sunday, January 20, 2019 | 11:22 PM

Pro-freedom slogans forces Hindu Guru to leave speech in Srinagar

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In occupied Kashmir, Hindu guru and Art of Living (AOL) founder, Sri Ravi Shankar had to cut short his speech and leave the venue after pro-freedom slogans were raised by the audience at International Convention Center in Srinagar.

The so-called peace conference titled ‘Paigam e Mohabbat’ could not go beyond minutes as the participants raised pro-freedom slogans.

“We were told that Pakistani diplomat is here. It was a deceitful act by the organisers,” some angry participants told reporters. After coming to know about the reality, many participants showed their resentment and spoke about the deceit of the organisers.

Several participants in the event also said that the organisers duped them by bringing them to the venue on various pretexts like waiving off loans, that resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani was going to address the gathering, and that relatives of victims will be given monetary compensation by Ravi Shankar’s AOL.

The function was held at International Convention Center, where Sri Ravi Shankar said he had been invited by some “well-meaning people” to speak at “Paigham-e-Mohabat” function. He, however, had to cut short his speech as people attending the function stood up and shouted pro-freedom slogans.

Within no time, several people in the audience rose up and started raising slogans in favour of Azadi and against India. The outrage was such that people started leaving the venue while accusing the organisers of having deceived them.

Ravi Shankar stopped his speech mid-way and left the venue. He went to a local hotel to address a press conference there.

At the event, an old man wearing a skull cap said that he was told by the organisers that his farmer’s loan will be waived off if he attends the event.

“That is why I came,” he said.

Another man, sporting a beard, said he came from Kupwara because he was told that a Gujjar leader would address the conference and listen to people’s complaints.

“When we came here, we realised he (Ravi Shankar) is asking us to leave our religious faith,” he said. “We will not leave our faith. This programme is completely wrong.”

A woman said that she was the relative of a man who had died in conflict. She said she was told by the organisers that if she attends the event, she will get monetary compensation.

A group of young men from Budgam said they had come to the event because they were told that Syed Ali Geelani will address it.

A large number of people, from various parts of Kashmir, had assembled in Srinagar to attend the event a day before as well. They said they were not given breakfast and lunch and were compelled to wait for many hours.

At the hotel where he addressed the press conference, Sri Sri dodged most of the questions. He was asked if he was suggesting Kashmir to “forget the past” then how come he advocates for the construction of a “Ram Mandir” to replace the Babri Masjid constructed centuries ago. He dodged the question.

In reply to a question that he was close to the BJP, Ravi Shankar said he was “neither close, nor far” from them.

He also did not comment on the debacle at the centre. Instead, he said people from across Kashmir had come to meet him. “I will meet various delegations during the two days of my stay,” he said.