Spiritual leader Ravi Shankar’s event in Jammu and Kashmir Capital Srinagar on Saturday was forced to end early, much to the embarrassment of the Art of Living founder. Ravi Shankar was invited for a “peace meet”, “Paigam-e-Mohabbat” meaning message of love, but several of those who attended it briefly said they were tricked into coming for the event.
People started leaving the Sheri Kashmir International Convention Centre soon after Ravi Shankar started talking about the “pain and suffering” in Jammu and Kashmir and urged people to “move on” and not dwell on the past. Some even shouted pro-independence slogans as they left the venue, the Hindustan Times reported.
A group of youngsters from Pattan in North Kashmir told the newspapers they were lured to Ravi Shankar’s event with the promise of cricketing kits from an NGO. “If our neighbours and friends come to know we had come here, it would be so embarrassing,” a student said. “Everybody knows how these things are politicised.”
A number of women told Rising Kashmir that they were deceitfully lured to attend Ravi Shankar’s event with the promise of sewing machines and certificates from skill centres. One of them said if the spiritual leader had “real love” for Kashmiris, he should push the Centre to stop the use of bullets and pellets on civilians.
A senior citizen from Kupwara said he had travelled nearly 100 km because he hoped to hear a Gujjar leader announce something for Scheduled Tribes. “From morning we have been waiting here without any food and water thinking some Gujjar leader will come,” Khushi Mohammad told the Hindustan Times.
Ravi Shankar was not forthcoming about who had invited him for the “peace meeting”. The Hindustan Times later learnt that a lesser-known group, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Alliance, led by businessman Sheikh Imran, had organised the event. Imran denied that his team had tricked people into coming for the event.
Ravi Shankar has been in the news of late not for his spiritual work, but for making controversial statements on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. On March 5, he had urged Muslims to give up their claim to the disputed site in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh as a “goodwill gesture”. He had warned of bloodshed in India along the lines of the civil war in Syria, after which a Hyderabad resident filed a complaint against him for his remarks that could disturb the communal harmony.