Sri Sri Visits Relief Camps, Calls for Removing Mistrust, Fear

9th of Aug 2012

KOKRAJHAR, AUGUST: Renowned spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Wednesday visited the riot-hit districts of Chirang and Kokrajhar with the objective of healing the wounds of the recent clashes. He visited several relief camps and interacted with the inmates.

Soon after his arrival from Guwahati, Sri Sri visited the relief camp at Kajalgaon Higher Secondary School in Chirang District. Addressing a large gathering of Bodo inmates, he advised them to face the tragedy with courage and prepare to reclaim their life. He urged them to go back to the villages with the feeling of belongingness. “It’s really painful that such a tragedy has happened in our country,” he said adding that The Art of Living is there with them. At the Basugoan camp of Muslim inmates, he enquired about their safety and comfort. Sri Sri expressed his concern over the conditions of many elderly inmates and spoke to them personally. He told the inmates who have gathered to receive him that with God’s grace, things would come back to normal soon.

In Kokrajhar, he visited the Vidyapeeth High School camp and interacted with the inmates, listening to their woes, and consoled them to face the tragedy with courage. In his bid to help the inmates overcome the lingering trauma, he advised them to see whatever has happened as a bad dream and pray for a better tomorrow. Many inmates shared their helplessness with tears in the eyes. Many regretted how long-standing harmony among different communities has been destroyed by the current riot. He reassured them that The Art of Living will work for rebuilding the trust.

In all the relief camps, Sri Sri distributed relief materials such as clothes, baby- food, toiletries, etc to the inmates. He said that The Art of Living has brought reputed Ayurvedic doctors to provide holistic health care to the inmates. In the coming days, check-up camps will be set up in almost all relief camps.

In Kokrajhar, Sri Sri held a series of meeting with the representatives of various organisations including All Bodo Student Union (ABSU), Bodo People’s Front (BPF), BPPF and academicians from Kokrajhar University and discussed ways and means to end the conflict and find long-term solution to the problems of Bodoland. The representatives of ABSU also submitted a memorandum to the spiritual leader. He also had a separate meeting with the representatives of All Bodo Minority Students Union (ABMSU) at Bongaigoan and listened to their points of view. He urged them to work for a harmonious and peaceful co-existence of all the communities in the Bodoland.

Later addressing a press conference in Guhawati on Thursday, Sri Sri commented that mistrust and fear in the people of Assam will take time to heal and added that the Art of Living is playing the role of removing them. He regretted that vote-bank politics has been played over Assam. He called for a lasting political solution. “Assam is sitting on time bomb,” he said.

The Art of Living has been carrying out a co-ordinated initiative to bring trauma care to the victims of the ethnic clashes in Assam. In addition to providing material relief, the NGO is focusing on healing the mental wounds of the conflict. Several volunteers of the organisation are currently camping in various camps in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts and teaching the inmates various techniques aimed at helping them overcome the trauma of the disaster.

Guided by Sri Sri’s insight that material relief alone is not enough to heal the suffering of the victims, The Art of living is conducting its renowned trauma relief workshops, which involves breathing techniques, meditation, etc. Its volunteers are also interacting regularly with the inmates with a view to help them reclaim their lives. Currently, its trauma care workshops are taking place in camps located in Kokrajhar town, Sukhanjwara, Gambarbil, Gossaingoan in Kokrajhar and Mongolian, Bijni in Chirnag. “People are finding an effective outlet to release their trauma through our workshops,” says Chandra Mohan Rai, a Yuvacharya (youth volunteer). “It’s amazing to hear inmates narrate how they have been able to smile for the first time after the clashes, thanks to the workshop. It’s not uncommon to see participants shed tears of gratitude after attending the workshops,” he adds.

In addition to providing trauma care, The Art of Living is also distributing relief materials worth of lakhs of rupees in these camps. It has been reaching out with relief materials to camps of both Bodo and Muslim communities.

Pic 1: Providing a healing touch: Art of living Founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Basugaon Higher Secondary School relief camp.

Pic 2: Spiritual leader and humanitarian, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, distributing relief material at the Basugaon Higher Secondary School relief camp.

Pic 3: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar meeting representatives of various Bodo organizations at the Kokrajhar Circuit House