On 6 September, Guwahati’s Srimanta Sankaradeva International Auditorium hosted a national summit entitled “Strength in Diversity: North East Indigenous People’s Conference”. 

The two-day event, co-rodinated by Sanjay Kumar, featured the spiritual guru and humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as the key speaker and chief guest, as well as leaders from all walks of life, including those who were formerly a part of insurgent groups and who are now on board to initiate the peace processes and
reduce the trust deficit.

Speaking to Guardian 20 about the historic moment and its implications, Sanjay Kumar, co-ordinator, Art of Living said, “It is for the first time in the history of India that all the tribal, ethnic, linguistic and insurgent groups from the Northeast are in talks, and others who couldn’t attend the conference have sent their representatives to share the platform with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. 

It is for the first time that the ice has broken. It is the beginning of a constructive conversation. Until there is no communication, there cannot be peace and until there is no peace there cannot be prosperity. We are working with this motto and are releasing a Guwahati Declaration, so that in the near future with this declaration we can guide civil society. It is a historic moment in the life of the people of Northeast.”

Also present at the event were several former underground leaders. The General Secretary of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), Anup Chetia, was here. Other prominent names included former leader of armed Tripura National Volunteers Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl and Dilip Nunisa of Dima Halam Daogah, the Assam-based militant outfit that laid down arms in 2013. 

“We have invited Gurudev to address the conference as he is known all over the world for motivating individuals and groups to resolve long-standing conflicts on the basis of love, equality, human values and compassion,” said Anup Chetia, the event’s organiser.  

Sanjay Kumar further added, “In this region, the people are fighting among themselves but ultimately they are all humans. Now they are sitting together and discussing. It is quite an emotional moment and I think we are moving towards the right direction.”  

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been pushing for peace in the region very proactively and is acknowledged to have played a big hand in the recent homecoming 68 militants in Manipur.    

Endorsing a holistic approach to the peace process, the spiritual guru also attended the “Adhibhautik Shanti Sanmelan”, a unique programme hosted by the Art of Living to harmonise the environment and pray for an atmosphere of peace and harmony in the wake of devastating natural calamities the region has witnessed in the recent past. He will also take stock of Art of Living’s ongoing flood relief initiatives in Assam, which have benefited over 70,000 people in worst-affected and remote areas. 

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