"we are taking it very seriously."
A statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised in a California park. This has led to US Indians calling for the incident to be investigated as a hate crime.
Unknown vandals had broken and ripped the statue from its base.
An employee of the Central Park in Davis had found the statue on the morning of January 27, 2021. It appeared to have been sawed off at the ankles and half of the face was severed and missing.
Davis City councillor Lucas Frerichs said the statue has been removed and will be stored in a safe place until it can be evaluated.
It was reported that investigators do not know when exactly the statue was vandalised or what the motive may have been.
Deputy Chief Paul Doroshov, of Davis Police Department, said:
“Seeing as it’s a cultural icon to a portion of the people in Davis, we are taking it very seriously.”
The statue of Gandhi was donated by the Indian Government to Davis. It was installed by the city council in 2017 amidst protests from anti-Gandhi and anti-India groups.
Organisations for Minorities in India (OFMI) led the protests and opposed the installation of the statue. However, the city voted to go ahead with the installation.
Since then, OFMI had launched a campaign to remove the Gandhi statue.
The incident has shocked US Indians.
Guarang Desai, of Friends of India Society International (FISI), said:
“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.
“They have not only run hate campaigns against Indian icons but have been at the forefront of attempts to push hinduphobia and erase India from California school textbooks.”
The incident has led to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate it has a hate crime.
HAF California Advocacy Director Easan Katir said:
“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.
“We urge local police to apprehend the perpetrators and call upon the city council to resurrect the statue as a statement that such destructive acts are not in harmony with our community standards.”
In a Tweet, HAF said:
“Make no mistake, this is not about legacy of Gandhi as a person, but about intimating India and Indian Americans.”
The Indian Government also expressed its dismay. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs, 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.”