NEW DELHI: A year after the second World Hindu Congress (WHC) was held in Chicago, the organisers have filed a lawsuit against five individuals who allegedly had disrupted the event. The WHC was attended by over 2,500 delegates and speakers from across the globe, including Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Interestingly, these protestors allegedly have links with the groups which had tried to disrupt the “Howdy! Modi” event at Houston last month. “The Howdy! Modi” was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump along with several US lawmakers, including Governors, US House Representatives, and Senators from both Republican and Democratic parties.

As per the records from the 18th judicial District of Dupage County Court, the defendants are Samay T. Gheewala, Anar Parikh, Tara Raghuveer, Rabindra Nath Deb and Jitendra Christian Kadirgamar, aka Sakananda Kadirgamar.

Sources said that those who were involved in disrupting the event have been found to be having links with an outfit Organisation for Minorities in India (OFMI), the organisation which launched one of the first attacks on the WHC and called for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi to dissociate themselves from the event. Gabbard, who had agreed to be the Chairperson of the WHC, eventually withdrew from the event. Krishnamoorthi, however, stayed on.

OFMI’s agenda, sources said, is allegedly directly aligned with outfits who portray India and Hindus as savages, warmongers and oppressors of minorities. “OFMI is a group led by pro-Khalistani Sikhs whose members are alleged to have been involved in procuring arms for the Khalistan movement. Its founder is Bhajan Singh Bhinder, who was the subject of an undercover US Customs Service Investigation for trying to purchase C-4 plastic explosives, M-16s, AK-47s, grenade and rocket launchers, and Stinger missiles in support of the separatist, Khalistan movement,” a source said.

Interestingly, these people are part of a big network in the US which is actively working against India, at the behest of anti-India lobby, including Pakistan. Pieter Friedrich, a known India and Hindu-baiter, according to sources, is affiliated to OMFI and had written a 20-page scurrilous screed against Tulsi Gabbard in an Indian magazine. Pieter Friedrich’s tweet against Gabbard was endorsed by Ro Khanna who is a Democratic US House Representative from the 17th Congressional district of California and is a grandson of a former Congress politician and a Member of Parliament in India. He is also the first Indian-American to have joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus.

The lawsuit was filed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA) at the County Court for the 18th Judicial District in the state of Illinois. The suit is against five named and 10 unidentified defendants and accuses them of conspiring to trespass into the convention, and counterfeiting Press passes and other documents in order to gain unauthorised access. It seeks damages caused by illegal trespass and disruption of the event. The event was held from 7 to 9 September last year.

Asked why it took one year to file the lawsuit in the case, a US-based source said, as per US laws, first a criminal case is filed and after its completion the lawsuit is filed. “The court has accepted the lawsuit and notice has been served against the defendants, who now have the opportunity to put their side,” he said.

A court date has not been decided yet, but it is expected that it could be 6 or 7 November.

“The complaint further alleges that the defendants and their accomplices then erupted in an outburst during the midst of one of the WHC’s plenary presentations, and taunted and intimidated presenters and attendees. The complaint seeks damages from the defendants for the substantial losses incurred by the organisers as a result of the defendants’ improper actions. Court records reveal that two of the named defendants were arrested for and eventually pleaded guilty to charges arising out of the events at the WHC,” according to a statement of the VHPA.

The complaint, according to a VHPA official, was filed on 11 September, approximately one year after the 2018 WHC disruption, both to commemorate the 126th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech in Chicago and the horrid attacks on this country on 11 September 2001. The date, 11 September, stands as a reminder to all Americans and citizens of the world of the importance of standing against religious intolerance and respecting the liberties and diversity that all Americans value.

A group of protesters had briefly disrupted the proceedings of WHC by allegedly raising slogans demanding religious leaders at the meet to oppose the Indian government’s alleged “actions against religious minorities”.