Skip to main content

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.

Comments

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.