Using fake conference passes, six activists snuck into the main ballroom at the Westin Hotel in the Chicago suburb of Lombard, Illinois, on Friday, September 7. In the room were hundreds of attendees of the 2018 World Hindu Congress who were gathered to listen to a plenary panel that included Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization responsible for many harsh policies and acts of violence against India’s religious minorities.

Before Bhagwat began speaking, the activists disrupted the panel, chanting, “RSS turn around, we don’t want you in this town.”

The six activists, mostly young South Asian women, were immediately attacked by attendees and choked, kicked, punched and spat on as the entire crowd began their own coordinated chant of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” which means in Hindi, “Victory to Mother India.” The activists, many from upper-caste Hindu families, have chosen to remain anonymous in interviews with the press due to safety concerns.

“When we first walked in, I thought, ‘It’s just a bunch of aunties and uncles,’ and then those uncles and aunties turned into a mob and attacked us,” one activist said.