Two Art of Living members held in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Nov 22 : Two members of the Art of Living foundation were arrested in Meghalaya on charge of trying to meet outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council’s (HNLC) leader in Bangladesh, police said.

Khroo Lamsalanki Pariat and Samir Jolly — said to be members of Art of Living foundation led by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar — were arrested on Monday by Meghalaya Police from Dawki police checkpost near the India-Bangladesh border, district police chief of West Jaintia Hills Vivek Syiem said on Tuesday.

However, the Art of Living said that its senior faculty Jolly, accompanied by Pariat, was on a peace mission to establish contact with the misguided youths who are operating in the area and convince them to eschew violence and join the mainstream.

The officer said the meeting was supposed to be held on Tuesday.

“Initially, the two did not disclose the purpose of their visit to Bangladesh. Their interrogation revealed that they were in close contact with HNLC members through its Publicity Secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw and other top cadres,” Syiem said.

The officer said since Pariat and Jolly were not authorised to hold parleys with an organisation banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, their motive to visit Bangladesh is suspect and merits further investigation.

“Their activities are a part of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s vision of engaging the misguided youth of the region and facilitating the process of making them come overground. Similar intervention of the Art of Living had led to the recent homecoming of 68 militants in Manipur,” Art of Living Bureau of Communication, Mansi Dharmraj, said.

He said the Art of Living has also trained and rehabilitated hundreds of cadres from United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and Manipur-based outfits who have laid down their arms.

Dharmraj said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has over the years been guiding leaders from the region to addressing their grievances in non-violent and democratic ways.

“The Art of Living has been working in the region to heal the trauma of militancy, facilitate dialogue, reform those who are lodged in prisons, and channelise misguided youth towards constructive pursuits.”

As recently as September 2017, Dharmraj said that the spiritual leader had acted as a rallying point for a conference that brought together leaders of 67 different organisations, including those who have formerly taken up arms.

“The move has been hailed as a real breakthrough in getting all the sides to discussing the problems of the region in terms of fairness, love, equality, human values and compassion.”