via Flickr Creative Commons by Janice Lee Foote
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi located in the Central Park of the City of Davis in Northern California was vandalized early this week, prompting strong condemnation from several Indian American organizations.
According to Tribune India, the six-foot tall, 650-pound bronze statue appeared to have been sawed off at the ankles, with half of its face severed and missing. The vandalization was found by a park employee in the early morning of Jan. 27.
“Mahatma Gandhi, like many iconic figures who are globally revered for their leadership in just and noble causes, was not a perfect man. But vandalizing and desecrating his statue is surely unacceptable in America, a nation that prides itself on the peaceful and democratic resolution of differences of opinion,” Indiaspora said in a statement, reports the Deccan Herald.
Davis City councilman Lucas Frerichs said that the statue is being removed and would be stored in a safe place until it could be evaluated. Investigators are unsure of when exactly the statue was torn down or what the motive might have been.
“Seeing as it’s a cultural icon to a portion of the people in Davis, we are taking it very seriously,” said Deputy Chief Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department, reports Tribune India.
Shocked and outraged Indian-Americans across the country, including the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), have demanded that officials investigate it as an incident of 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,” said HAF California Advocacy Director Easan Katir, reports Tribune India.
According to the Deccan Herald, the statue of Gandhi was donated to the city of Davis by the Indian government. It was installed by the city council four years ago amidst protests from anti-Gandhi and anti-India organizations.
Organizations for Minorities of India (OFMI) led these protests and opposed the installation of the statue, however the City of Davis voted to proceed with the installation, reports Tribune India. Since then, OFMI launched a campaign to remove the statue.
“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), reports Tribune India.
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What a world we live in. Disgusting. Disrespectful. Violent. What will it take to become a civilized society again?