VHP seeks $500,000 in damages from alleged trespassers at Hindu congress

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America has filed a civil lawsuit in a district court in Illinois against five named defendants and ten unidentified defendants, alleging they conspired to trespass into the second World Hindu Congress held in Chicago in 2018.

The lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court for the 18th Judicial District in Illinois on Sept. 11 seeks exemplary damages in an amount of $100,000 per tortfeasor or alleged individual wrongdoer, in addition to compensatory damages in an amount greater than $50,000and to be determined at trial.

The lawsuit brings charges on four counts against the five named defendants and ten unidentified “John Doe” defendants, including conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to trespass using fraudulent means to obtain inauthentic press passes to gain unauthorized entrance to the Congress and/or disrupt the conference.

The VHPA hosted the 2018 WHC from Sept. 7-9, 2018 at The Westin Chicago Lombard at Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois. The congress that was addressed by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat calling for Hindu Unity drew more than 2,000 Hindus from 60 countries, including from Pakistan and the Caribbean.

A few hours later after Bhagwat’s address in the morning on the inaugural day of the congress, protests erupted inside the conference room when about half a dozen young people, most of them identified as women belonging to Chicago South Asians For Justice, allegedly intruded the venue and raised slogans such as “RSS turn around, we don’t want you in town” and “Stop Hindu fascism” before they were stopped and ejected.

In the lawsuit last month VHPA named Samay T. Gheewala, Anar Parikh, Tara Raghuveer, Nath Deb Robindra a/k/a Robindra Deb Nath, Jitendra Christian Kadirgamar Skanda a/k/a Skanda Kadirgamar, and John Does Nos. 1-10 as defendants.

The lawsuit alleged that on Sept. 7, 2018, the defendants, individually and collectively, made false representations to plaintiff’s representatives and agents by presenting counterfeit press and mediacredentials to gain access to the WHC and exclusive premises.

A VHPA spokesperson said the complaint was filed on Sept. 11, 2019, 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 the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

“The date, September 11, 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.”

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