Indian authorities expressed outrage as the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Davis, California, gifted by the government of India in 2016, has been torn down and vandalized by unknown assailants.
“The Government of India strongly condemns this malicious and despicable act against a universally respected icon of peace and justice,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement following pictures of the vandalism being spread on social media.
Unknown persons vandalised statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Central Park, City of Davis, California on 28th January. Govt of India had gifted the statue in 2016. Govt of India has condemned this malicious and despicable act against universally respected icon of peace and justice. pic.twitter.com/V3IZrymWRK
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 30, 2021
The Embassy of India has brought up the matter with the State Department in DC, as has the Consulate General of India in San Francisco with local authorities.
The 6-ft tall, 650-pound (294 kg) bronze statue was sawed at the ankles and half its head was missing. It was found in Davis’ Central Park by a city employee in the morning hours of January 27. The statue has been removed and isolated and will be examined as part of an investigation.
Deputy Chief Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department called the statue a “cultural icon” and said the matter is being taken “very seriously.”
Some activists have suggested the vandalism could potentially be a hate crime.
“We condemn this cowardly desecration and call upon the Department of Homeland Security and FBI to investigate this hate crime, as it was likely done with the intention of intimidating the Indian American community,” Hindu American Foundation (HAF) California Advocacy Director Easan Katir said of the incident.
The organization tweeted that the act of vandalism was not about Gandhi himself, but rather a move to “intimidate India and Indian Americans.”
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