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Protesting activists at Chicago Hindu meet were "choked, kicked, spat at" by those chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai

Pandemonium at Chicago's World Hindu Congress after six activists disrupted the meet 
Counterview Desk
The World Hindu Congress, held on September 7-9 at the Westin Hotel in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Illinois, has gone controversial. The controversy began even before RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was announced as the keynote speaker.
US Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard, described as “the first Hindu elected to the US Congress, who was originally scheduled to chair the event, refused to do calling it a “platform for partisan politics in India” in a letter to Abhaya Asthana, president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), America, the host organization.
Ram Villivalam, who in January 2019 will be sworn in as the first South Asian-American member of the Illinois General Assembly, also refused to attend the Congress.
Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar also declined his invitation and tweeted: “I’m a proud Hindu and the first Indian-American elected to Chicago City Council. I’m extremely disappointed and ashamed @WHCongress would invite speakers and organizations that promote discrimination, Islamaphobia, and Hindu nationalism. This is not who we are.”
Outside the venue, protestors displaying slogans such as “RSS out of India”, “RSS Go Away”, “End Brahmin theocracy: Save India from fascism”, and “Prosecute Mohan Bhagwat for crimes against humanity”, marched for hours over two days. Both days of the protests concluded with the distribution of langar by Sikhs.
Tulsi Gabbard
Avaaz, an online activist network, paid for an ad in the Chicago Tribune against the event and had a mobile advertisement van, which read “Boycott World Hindu Congress”, driving around the hotel.
On the first day of the conference, which was also in attendance at the conference was Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, six activists, allegedly using fake conference passes, sneaked into the main ballroom at the Westin Hotel, where hundreds of attendees of the 2018 World Hindu Congress (WHC), who were gathered to listen to a plenary panel that included Bhagwat.
Before Bhagwat began speaking, the activists disrupted the panel, chanting, “RSS turn around, we don’t want you in this town” (click HERE for a video).
Identified as “young South Asian women”, the activists – all of them members of Chicago South Asians for Justice and part of a coalition of South Asian-American organizations named the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) – were immediately reportedly attacked by attendees and “choked, kicked, punched and spat on as the entire crowd began their own coordinated chant of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
The activists, said to be belonging mostly as “upper-caste Hindu families”, chose to remain anonymous in interviews with the press due to safety concerns. One of them reportedly said, “They called me a ‘dirty Muslim’ and threatened death,” while another said, “I had people who looked like aunties screaming, ‘Bitch, bitch, bitch,’ over and over again. One lady outside yelled she wished my mother was killed and I was never born.” 
***
Meanwhile, the protesters who had sneaked into the WHC meet, and belonged to the Chicago South Asians for Justice, issued the following statement:
Last night, we staged a peaceful disruption of the WHC, an event that celebrated speakers like Mohan Bhagwat, the chair of the Indian right-wing, militant group RSS, now ascendant in Indian politics. We were viciously attacked by conference attendees. They choked, kicked, and spat on us. Photos and videos do not capture the ferocity of violence we experienced. The crowd’s reaction tore the mask off the fascism underlying the Congress and the Hindutva ideology.
We are young people, mostly women and mostly South Asian. We follow the leadership of marginalized communities who have suffered the brunt of persecution of the Hindutva movement.
The WHC is an international body that aims to promote Hindu supremacy in India and across the globe. WHC masks itself as a non-violent moderate organization, simply interested in promoting Hindu values.
WHC intentionally obscures its militant, religious fundamentalist principles and ties online, but during the conference, WHC speakers reiterated their disturbing political philosophy, which includes militarist and eugenist overtones and messages of intolerance. More than anything, their brutal actions in response to our peaceful dissent demonstrate how dangerous they truly are.
The ruling party in India, BJP, is the political wing of the RSS. There are clear linkages between the right-wing Hindu nationalist party and the tyranny of Hindu fascists. BJP politicians, including Prime Minister Modi, have given license to mobs and vigilantes to terrorize religious and social minorities at their whim.
We thank Illinois State Senator-elect Ram Villivalam and Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar for declining their invitations to the World Hindu Conference, denouncing the event, and issuing statements of solidarity with our protest.
The World Hindu Congress is a part of a growing global fascism. We are horrified that they posed as a mainstream religious group, allowed attendees to assault us during peaceful protest, and brought the threat of global militant fascism close to our homes. We resolve to remain a part of the left resistance.
The Chicago South Asians for Justice issued the following demands:
  • We demand that US Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-08), who attended and spoke at the WHC, issue a statement denouncing the event and the violence that took place; 
  • We demand that Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar act on his stated opposition to state violence and oppose Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed Cop Academy in Chicago; and, 
  • We demand that World Hindu Congress organizers, sponsors, attendees,, and speakers denounce the past and present violence of Hindutva organizations.

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