HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar steps up efforts to restore peace in Orissa

Alabama, United States
14th October 2008

BANGALORE: Renowned spiritual leader His Holiness Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has stepped in to help defuse the prevailing tension and mistrust in Kandhamal in Orissa. On Tuesday, he had a videoconference with leaders of different communities and discussed measures to restore normalcy and rebuild trust among people from different communities.

Earlier, Gurudev had already sent an emissary to discuss the issue with tribal leaders, Christian leaders and VHP leaders and initiate confidence building measures. Pankaj Gupta, a senior disciple, was in Kandhamal for over a week. Following his discussions with authorities and community leaders, Gurudev addressed them through a video conference, which was attended by District Collector of Kandhamal Krishan Kumar, Kui Samaj Coordination Committee chairman Lambodhar Kahar, BJP leader Ajit Patnaik and local Schedule Caste leader Bramhanand Dhera and Pramod Mandal, president of the Oriya Baptist Church.

They also adopted a resolution to appeal for peace and urged the government to stop mass arrests without proper evidence and atrocities by the police.

During the conference, Gurudev emphasised the need for addressing the issue on a people- to-people basis. He urged the leaders to sit together and sort out differences.

“It becomes difficult to resolve issues of this nature if they get politicised,” Gurudev said.

He impressed upon all leaders to cooperate with the civil society in uniting the hearts and minds of people so that people who are taking refuge in relief camps feel safe to return home. He urged the people of the area to visit the camps, and instil confidence and trust in people living in the camps.

Urging political parties not to politicise the issue for short-term gains, he said, “India has a long history of peaceful co-existence among different communities and faiths. This tradition has to be maintained at all costs.”

The violence erupted in the area after the August 23 killing of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, a Hindu leader and four others at his ashram in Kandhamal. Angered by the murder, local people resorted to mob violence.