Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India
October 26th, 2013
The only thing the victims of the recent communal riot in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh are longing for is the healing touch and a message of peace. And that was exactly what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar delivered during his visit to the riot-affected area on October 26, 2013.
Sri Sri was embraced with equal anticipation by people from either side of the hostile communal conflict.
The mood of the people was aptly summed up by Mohammed Asgar of Kawal Village. “Until now, nobody has come here to talk peace. Everybody comes here for their own vested interest. Today Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has brought solace and we are finally experiencing peace of mind.”
The family members of Gaurav and Sachin, whose killing sparked off the riot or those of Shahnawaz, whose death, many believe, actually spiraled into a full-blown communal conflict, shared their pain with him and asked for his blessings to overcome the trauma. He advised them to have patience and not to lose faith in God. “Justice will be done. With God’s grace, things would be back to normal soon,” was his reassurance.
Sri Sri called upon the people of Muzaffarnagar to unitedly stand up against injustice. “Make Muzaffarnagar, Moohabatnagar (city of love).” He added not only Hindus and Muslims, but also humanness was killed during riot. He emphasized the need for restoring mutual trust among the communities. “Peace and harmony is needed to ensure progress and development,” he said.
Sri Sri was pained by the deep mistrust and scars in both the communities. He regretted that interference of politicians, and failure of administration have caused colossal damage. But more than what he said, it was his presence that touched the people.
“Visit from such personalities can bring back peace to Muzaffarnagar,” said Aftab. Seeing him, I could sense peace will return to Muzaffarnagar now,” added Muhammed Yusuf. Suddenly, the hearts which have seen nothing but pain ever since the riot broke out last month opened up. In the midst of helplessness, they saw a saviour who would listen to their grief and do something about it.
“My son is gone, but I don’t want any further conflict,” said Salim, father of Shahnawaz. “We have lost two sons. They will never return. All we want is a fair CBI investigation,” shared Ravindra, father of Gaurav.
Given the extent of polarisation in the affected-areas, Sri Sri’s visit was a refreshingly fresh peace mission in itself. That a sane voice like that of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s was heard with anticipation by the people from the both sides of the divide provided hope for a lasting reconciliation between the Hindus and Muslims of Muzaffarnagar.