LUCKNOW: Situated on the banks of Ganga, Muzaffarnagar had witnessed its worst bloodshed in the spate of communal riots in 2013, which claimed more than 60 lives, while rendering more than 40,000 homeless. However, all is still not lost for this district located in western Uttar Pradesh, as a spiritual movement has embarked on a mission to transform Muzaffarnagar into Mohabbatnagar, and restore the place its pristine glory.
Elaborating further on the efforts made by Art of Living to help revival of normalcy in the strife-torn district, Ashish Loya, a trainer, said, "It was in September 2013 that the communal riots engulfed Muzaffarnagar, and it was in October that our Guruji (Sri Sri Ravishankar) came here and we decided that the until the atmosphere of trust is restored and a positive environment is generated, the situation would remain more or less the same." He further added that it was precisely this time that the seeds of transforming Muzaffarnagar into Mohabbatnagar was actually sown.
The mass contact programme with the villagers started in November 2013, and initially 16-20 villages were shortlisted, Loya said, and added, "The district police played a major role in helping us to reach to the troubled villages, where we interacted with the community leaders from all the communities. Initially, people were reluctant to come to our camps, but gradually, as they realised our intention, they started turning up in groups."
During the various camps held, the organisers were able to reach to more than 9,000 villagers. "Activities like yoga, dhyaan, counselling of villagers, initiating a dialogue process among the villagers in order to ensure that they find inner peace," Ashish said, and added that the organisation has now planned to impart leadership skills to youngsters and instil a sense of confidence among them.
Appreciating the efforts initiated by the group, superintendent of police (Muzaffarnagar), Hari Narayan Singh, said, "The volunteers would visit the villages early in the morning, and conduct programmes to restore communal harmony especially in the villages. The villagers have benefitted from the programme, as the programme was not confined to one particular community."
Reacting to the programme, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, Muhammed M Haji, said, "The need of the hour is to take such programmes to each and every village, so that the coefficient of love and bonhomie among the people from various communities increase and prosper." He also added that all the Muslims and Jats must sink their differences, and rebuild this place, which did not witness an iota of communal tension even during the 1947 partition days.