India has reacted strongly to the incident of unknown miscreants vandalizing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a park in the US state of California and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and appropriate action against those responsible.
MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava tweeted, “Our Embassy @IndianEmbassyUS& Consulate @CGISFO have taken this up with US authorities who condemned the act and initiated an investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice at the earliest. Government of India strongly condemns vandalism of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Davis, California as a malicious & despicable act against a universally respected icon of peace & justice.”
The incident took place on January 28. Quoting the local Davis Enterprise daily, PTI reported that the 650-pound (294 kg) in the Central Park of the City of Davis appeared to have been sawed off at the ankles and half its face was severed and missing.
The vandalised statue, according to the police, was found by a park employee in the early hours of the morning of January 27. It is being removed and will be stored in a safe place until it can be evaluated.
The 6-ft tall bronze statue was gifted by the Government of India to the city of Davis in 2016. The statue was installed amid protests from anti-Gandhi and anti-India organizations including Organisation for Minorities in India (OFMI), which spearheaded these protests.
Local Indian community organizations have condemned the act of vandalism.
On Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary on Saturday, the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement saying that the US Department of State has dubbed the act of vandalism unacceptable and expressed the hope that perpetrators will be brought to justice as quickly as possible.
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.
In 2016, the OFMI was part of a campaign to remove the mentions of 'India' from the sixth and seventh grade California school textbooks and replace them with ‘South Asia’.
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.