Art of Living brings together victims of Kashmir conflict

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressing victims of Kashmir conflict during a gathering at Bengaluru on Friday.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressing victims of Kashmir conflict during a gathering at Bengaluru on Friday.

Excelsior Correspondent

BENGALURU, Nov 10: A heart-felt exchange of emotions marked the Paigam-e-Mohabbat, a unique gathering of victims of Kashmir conflict, hosted by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru on Friday.
The program brought together family members of slain militants and victims of cross-firing from Kashmir and families of defence and security personnel from all over India who have been martyred in the Valley. Representatives from over 200 affected families, including 60 women, travelled all the way from remote places in Kashmir to attend the program.
It was a heart-touching moment for everyone to see the families share the pain they have gone through and renounce the culture of militancy, which has claimed their dear ones.
Commenting on the initiative, Sri Sri said, “When the families affected by violence come together in a spirit of forgiveness, a new vision for a non-violent society will emerge. I am confident that this would inspire many youths to take that path.”
“Unless and until we put a balm to heal the hurt and give a new vision, the chain reaction of violence will continue,” he said and added that such events will enliven that aspect and make one realise that neither violence nor blame game lead anywhere.
A softening of hearts was very apparent when a former militant Abdul Majeed said, “Youth must drop their guns and follow the path of peace. We have come here because Gurudev (Sri Sri) is a big personality who does big work. We hope that he will get us a solution through talks.”
“We have come with a lot of hope. We didn’t expect that we would have the chance to come to a space like this. We have lost a lot. Now we want to spread a message of love to the nation,” added Ajaz Ahmad Mir from Ganderbal.
“We have nothing against each other. Our anger is against the circumstances that are making us kill each other in Kashmir. We hope Gurudev will address this,” said a widow of an officer martyred in Kashmir.
Denouncing the path of violence, Fayaz Ahmad Sheik of Baramulla regretted, “My father was killed and burnt in 1999. I want to say this shouldn’t happen to anyone else. We don’t want this to happen any more.”
“People of both sides have been killed whether they are from the Army or the other side. We are unable to sleep at night, can’t go out in the day. We want peace. We have come to Gurudev with the hope for peace,” added Ghulam Hussain, a former militant.
Sharing the work done by the Art of Living in Jammu & Kashmir since 2004, Sanjay Kumar, Program Director of the Art of Living, said, “From pro-Pakistan leaders to stone-pelters, Sufi saints to intellectuals, we have been in continuous and sustained engagement with all stakeholders for over a decade. The reconciliation and conflict resolution efforts will continue to bridge religious, ideological and communal divides in the troubled Valley.”
Besides, many representatives from the Valley have met Gurudev and sought his intervention to rebuild trust and peace in the Valley. They include members from the families of slain militants and martyrs. Muzaffar Wani, father of slain Hizbul Muzahideen leader Burhan Wani, also met Gurudev last year in the Art of Living International Centre in Bengaluru.
The Art of Living has been working in Kashmir since 2004 to heal the trauma of militancy, facilitate dialogue, reform those who are lodged in prisons, de-stress Army and police personnel and channelize misguided youth towards constructive pursuits.