Art of living inspires 3 rebels to drop guns, contest polls

via,prtpage-1.cms published on October 20, 2009

Sanjay Ojha, TNN

RANCHI: It’s a spiritual re-run of Mahatma Gandhi’s advocacy of non-violence. Three Maoist rebels have decided to drop the gun, shun the path of violence and go the civilian way. Their soulful awakening has won the appreciation of spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Three CPI (Maoist) leaders, including a woman, from Jharkhand have decided to contest the coming Assembly elections and they have the blessings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

Satish Kumar, one of the Maoists, met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar along with is wife and another leader a couple of days back and promised to join mainstream life under the guidance of the spiritual guru. Jharkhand is under President’s Rule since January 19 and elections are likely in the state in December-January.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his AOL have been very active in the state for the last few years appealing to Maoists to give up violence and even conducted spiritual camps in jails where the rebels are lodged. The organization runs over 20 schools, including a couple of residential schools for children of the weaker sections, in Maoist-hit districts of the state.

During his last visit to the state in February this year Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had personally appealed to the rebels. He met inmates at Birsa Munda Central Jail, Hotwar and the sub-divisional jail at Latehar where a number of Maoist leaders are lodged.

According to an AOL spokesperson, the three Maoist leaders recently met the spiritual leader at Bangalore and requested him to extend his support to them during the elections. “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has always advocated non-violence, assured the three that he would support them if they join mainstream life and adopt democratic means,” said the spokesperson.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar believes that people take recourse to violence only when they have some emotional wound and if it is cured they return to normal life. “If Maoist leaders are willing to join mainstream life, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will support them,” said the spokesperson. On whether Guruji will campaign for them, the spokesperson said he never takes part in election campaigns.

A member of AOL from Jharkhand, B B Singh, who was present at the meeting, said Maoists under Shatrughan Kumar have formed a new political outfit called Jharkhand Vikas Party. “Initially they were planning to contest nine seats. After getting Guruji’s blessings, it was decided that the party should contest more seats,” said Singh, adding that the exact number of seats will be decided in the next few days at a meeting of the party.

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