Protesters Disrupt Chicago’s World Hindu Congress; Scuffle Ensues
A statement released by the Chicago South Asians For Justice alleges that they were “choked, kicked and spat on.”
Three persons, including two protesters, were arrested in Chicago, United States, after violence broke out at the venue of the World Hindu Congress (WHC) on the night of Friday, 7 September.
Six demonstrators, including five women, reportedly held banners, chanting "STOP HINDU FASCISM” during the evening plenary session, following which, the gathering at the conference turned violent.
Two of the women protesters were arrested on Friday evening and local police charged them with disorderly conduct and trespassing. They were released later in the night.
Representing the Chicago South Asians for Justice, the two women speaking on condition of anonymity told PTI that they protested during the World Hindu Congress to urge the leaders attending it to oppose the “current actions of the government against religious minorities”.
The event organisers alleged that the protesters sneaked into the venue through a "fake identity card". The issue has been reported to the police and is being investigated.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and its joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosbale and six other top Hindu religious leaders were participating in a panel discussion on collective efforts for Hindu resurgence when the protesters seated at two different places in the hall suddenly stood on their chairs and started raising slogans such as "Stop Hindu Fascism" and "RSS turn around, we do not want you in town."
Taken by surprise, some of the attendees at the conference raised counter slogans, prevented them from raising the banner that they had brought in, and in less than a minute were taken out of the plenary hall. The hotel security and local police immediately took control of the situation.
Quoting a protester, the statement further read:
We were pushed into our seats and surrounded by screaming men. I was punched in the face, kicked in the back, and grabbed. They called me a ‘dirty Muslim’ and threatened death. When I was outside in handcuffs, a man walked up to me and spat in my face in front of the police.
Following the incident, the security in and around the hotel has been beefed up. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu also addressed the WHC on Sunday.
"About six of us were at the WHC today. We were there to protest the conference, the organiser, the speakers, and the attendees and their support for the current and historic violence that's been propagated by the RSS and other similar organisations," one of the woman protesters told PTI after being released.
"We sat through most of the plenary this evening. There were about six speakers. Two of us were on one side of the room and the rest sat on the other side of the room. We stood up with a banner. We chanted 'RSS turnaround, we do not want you in town'," she said and alleged that they were immediately swarmed and other conference attendees started screaming at them.
The two of these women were handcuffed as they came out of the hotel. The police arrested another individual for allegedly spitting on them.
"He did that in front of the police," she said.
"We mounted our disruption towards the end of the evening plenary session," the second woman protester said, alleging that some of the attendees in the room snatched the banner from them.
Earlier in the day, Avaaz Foundation took out a full-page advertisement in The Chicago Tribune against the WHC. The advertisement cost them around $26,000. The foundation on Friday also hired a mobile advertisement van which moved in the vicinity of the hotel.
More protests are planned for Saturday.
(With inputs from AP, PTI)
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