An incident of vandalising a 6 feet-tall Mahatma Gandhi statue inside a park in California, United States has sent shockwaves internationally and back in India.
The 6-ft tall, 650-pound (294 kg) bronze statue of Gandhi, in the Central Park of the City of Davis in Northern California, appeared to have been sawed off at the ankles and half its face was severed and missing, local Davis Enterprise daily reported.
The vandalised statue of Mahatma Gandhi was found by a park employee in the early hours of morning of January 27, the police said.
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was a donation by the Indian government to the city of Davis, that was installed by the city council four years ago amidst protests by anti-Gandhi and anti-India organisations.
Organisation for Minorities in India (OFMI), had spearheaded these protests and opposed the installation of the statue. The City of Davis had however voted to go ahead with the installation. Since then OFMI had launched a campaign to remove the Gandhi statue.
Indian-Americans have expressed deep anguish and shock at the incident.
“An atmosphere of hatred was being created by many anti-India and hinduphobic radical organisations like OFMI and other Khalistani separatists for many years now,” said Guarang Desai of Friends of India Society International (FISI).
Appalled at the vandalism, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has demanded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigate the incident as a hate crime.
The vandalism was, however, praised on Twitter by a pro-Khalistan group in California, who shared photos of the destroyed statue, and others who stated ‘today is a good day’.
This is not the first time a statue of Gandhi has been desecrated. In December 2020, Khalistani-supporters had desecrated a Mahatma Gandhi statue in Washington, DC in front of the Indian Embassy.
Meanwhile, in India, the Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, said: “The government of India strongly condemns this malicious and despicable act against a universally respected icon of peace and justice.
“The Consulate General of India in San Francisco has separately taken up the matter with the city of Davis and local law enforcement authorities, which have initiated the investigations.
“Local Indian community organisations have condemned the act of vandalism,” it added.