Amid protests, Sri Sri leaves SKICC venue in Srinagar

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founder of Art of Living FoundationIANS

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar founder of Art of Living FoundationIANS

Asked about the people's allegations, Ravi Shankar said it was he who was invited to Kashmir and he had not invited those people but would be available to hear whatever they want to say. The aim of the event was to "promote peace and communal harmony".

Later, a businessman named Sheikh Imran who also has a little known party by the name of JK Peoples' Alliance, said that he along with a group of people had invited Sri Sri to the function.

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Shankar started his speech with greetings in Kashmiri language: "Waare Chue seere, meu chue tuhund loul yewaan (How are you, I miss you people)".

File image of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. "We have the courage, power and will to become resilient and see towards the future of society", said Sri Sri. We waited, but we had no idea this man was coming to lecture us.

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According to reports, some of the people who had come from several districts including Shopian, Pulwama, Budgam were made to sit for long hours without any food and water by the organisers. "This is why we are leaving", Mehmooda Shah, a resident of Tangmarg, whose brother was killed in 2010, said. The police was called in to deal with the situation, after which the protesters dispersed peacefully. "I am in favour of genuine intervention", he said. "Participants shouted pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans and he (Sri Sri) had to stop", Ahmad said, adding: the organisers shifted the venue. I am going to talk to them in small groups. "They told us that we will get cricket kit and free meal and travel". However, they were not told the name of the NGO. He said that people were told that there would be "advocacy of their problems".

Muzaffar Iqbal, a resident of Kupwara, said cars were arranged for their travel to Srinagar, and more than three dozen villagers had volunteered to participate in the programme.

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"People have issues and nobody was there to hear them so we invited somebody who is spiritual and has say at national and global level", Imran said. I came here on invitation of Kashmiri people. Participants at the meet told Kashmir Dispatch that they were "tricked" in to attending the controversial event at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre. If our neighbors and friends come to know we had come here, it would be so embarrassing.

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