The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 19, 2014

Tossed out of U.S.

FAIRFIELD — More participants are being expelled from the country after a violent incident at an international peace project.

"We have met with all the Pandits as a whole and groups of their leaders and individuals and expressed our concern and of our zero tolerance of such behavior," said Bill Goldstein, a leader overseeing the Pandit peace project.

And while the first thing administrators at the meditation center did was calmly talk to all members, they are also taking disciplinary measures.

"Six left on Saturday," said Goldstein.

They were escorted to O'hare International Airport and sent back to their home nations, mostly in India.

"An internal review of the situation is continuing with the aim to avoid ... repeat incidents," Goldstein said.

On Monday, he said "it is expected that additional Pandits involved in this incident will be requested to return to India this week."

Then, before press time Wednesday, Goldstein provided some specifics to the Courier: All told, he said, about 30 more Pandits will be sent home in the next few days.

Goldstein said they don't know for sure who threw rocks at police, but some "we suspect of involvement" are also being ordered back to India.

"In the next week, we will continue to look at additional departures as determined appropriate."

The law enforcement officer whose car was damaged said there may or may not be charges filed. His goal during the incident was the safety of Jefferson County residents. Next was keeping the violence from escalating. Finding out who smashed his windows while he was in the car was not a top priority at the time.

"Because I had no way of identifying who damaged my vehicle, I could not charge anyone with the offense," explained Sheriff Gregg Morton of Jefferson County. "We run into a false-arrest situation if we charge the wrong people. This does not mean that the investigation is over or that there will be no charges filed."

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