Sri Sri Ravishankar, the founder of the Art of Living, has broken his silence on allegations of land grabbing against his Bengaluru-based foundation. He said, "We are compassionate but firm in dealing with anti-social elements. We will not budge or fall into the trap of miscreants. These tactics of threat and hiding behind fictitious stories will not work."
He urged the people to be patient and not to take law into their hands. "The truth will always triumph. An extortionist cannot hide under the garb of helping the downtrodden. This exercise of false propagation and instigation will not work. (Agni) Sridhar has threatened to malign us by using fabricated videos of women and then moved on to a non-existent land issue."
"The Art of Living foundation has spent crores of rupees on the welfare and relief of the poor and can never think of doing injustice to anyone ever," he added.
"While emphasising this and adhering to our stand, we also thank Sridhar for giving us an experience which we have never had. Ours is just one incident. There are many others who are reeling under the fear of money and muscle power and our sympathy and solidarity is with all of them."
"The land in question was bought by the Art of Living after checking all legal documents from M Vijay at the market price in 2004 as we needed land to accommodate the large number of devotees coming in for the silver jubilee of the Art of Living in 2006. Incidentally, the gentleman who we purchased the land from happens to be a Brahmin and not a Dalit as was misinformed by Sridhar in his allegation."
"The organisation has built toilets in many homes, made community centres in 20 villages around the ashram and is also giving free food along with education to 2,000 children of the neighbouring villages. Direct or indirect employment has been generated for hundreds of villagers around the ashram area.
"We urge the police to take action against forces who try to bring disharmony and thrive on false propagation. Our body of work over the past 30 years is known to all. We will continue to reach out to the masses with our development projects and stress-elimination programmes," he concluded.