Kashmir has ben witnessing unrest since the day Hizbul Mahijdeen commander Burhan wAni was killed in an encounter. The father of the militant Muzaffar Wani on Saturday visited spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at his ashram in Bengaluru and this caused ripples across the Valley.
“Mr Muzaffar Wani was in the ashram for two days. Certainly, Sri Sri and Mr Wani discussed about the current situation, about the suffering and how peace and normalcy can be restored in the Valley. It was purely on a personal and humanitarian angle,” a statement from Art of Living read.
Wani arrved in Bengaluru on August 25 accompanied by a 50-year-old mediator from AoL. As per sources in the police, the visit was entirely arranged by AoL, central intelligence agencies had received no prior notice about it.
On august 27, Sri Sri tweeted a picture of him and Muzzaffar Wani saying, “Muzaffar Wani, the father of Burhan Wani was in the ashram for the last 2 days. We discussed several issues.”
As per Wani, he went to the Art of Living leader as a “common man” to undergo a treatment. However, The Indian Express reports that the two-day visit was the result of efforts over several years to build bridges with various sections of Kashmiri society, including the separatist Hurriyat Conference.
Shama Sondhi, a member of AOL’s Kashmir operation in conversation with The Indian express said, “There is a need to calm down the anger on the streets and Guruji is doing that. Guruji has a divine presence and if he can help in Syria, why wouldn’t he intervene to bring peace in Kashmir?
The AoL’s stated objective in Kashmir is to “wean away youth from violence” through a number of programmes, including a leadership initiative. It has maintained a low profile while it works closely with the government.
Soon after a picture with the father of militant Wani, Sri Sri tweeted, ” Here in Bangalore Ashram,had a detailed discussion with Dr. Ghulam Rasool Hami,Founder,Karwan-I-Islami, on Kashmir issue.” Prior to this, in 2011, he had met Hurriyat leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to establish peace in the Valley. According to records of the meeting on the AoL website, Mirwaiz had said “Sri Sri was an advocate of humanitarian values and Kashmir is a humanitarian issue”.
— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) September 1, 2016
According to reports, Sri Sri visited Kashmir in June 2016, where he stayed at Mirwaiz’ s home and shared the stage with Syed Ali Geelani at an event.
“Guruji has been coming to Kashmir since 1998 and has been trying to help bring peace here. He has been talking to people here,” said Sondhi, the AoL representative who is a Kashmiri Pandit associated with the organisation for the last 24 years.
Not just this, AoL has been running several programmes in the Valley. Namely- Peace Initiative and Conflict Resolution, Prisoners SMART (Stress Management and Rehabilitation Training), Trauma Relief and Disaster Management, Rural Development, Schools for Underprivileged, Woman Empowerment and Environmental Awareness.
According to Sondhi, the organization works closely with the government, Army, and other paramilitary forces in order to bring peace in Kashmir.
Sri Sri takes a keen interest in “making militants in prisons give up their violent past” and has “met with more than 300 convicted militants in the high-security Kot Balwal” jail in Jammu. “The militants, too, are under a lot of stress… Their families go through a lot. And they know they will be killed. We wish to help them as well, added Sondhi.
Over 70 people have been killed and 11,000 injured in clashes among protesters and security forces since the killing of Burhan Wani, while a prolonged curfew of almost 58 days has paralysed the normal life of the citizens.