New York: Several Indian-American organizations in the US on Sunday strongly condemned the violent toppling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in California and expressed hope that those responsible for the despicable act will be brought to justice.
The 6-ft tall, 650-pound (294 kg) bronze statue of Gandhi in the Central Park of the City of Davis in Northern California was vandalized, broken and ripped from the base by unknown people early this week.
“We call upon the City of Davis to immediately commence a thorough process to bring the perpetrators of this act to justice and reinstall a statue that pays homage to this apostle of peace,” non-profit organization Indiaspora said in a statement.
“It is especially ironic that the statue of a leader who was among the foremost historical giants of non-violent civil protest was torn down in this manner,” Indiaspora said.
In 2016, the Davis City Council voted to proceed with the installation of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the city’s Central Park.
The statue of Gandhi, which was donated by the Indian government to the city of Davis, was installed by the city council four years ago amid protests from anti-Gandhi and anti-India organizations.
Strongly condemning the desecration and destruction of the Gandhi statue, Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) said that it is more hurtful to see that the people who had done this despicable act on the eve of January 30th, the day when Mahatma Gandhi paid the ultimate sacrifice for every Indian’s freedom.
“We are grateful to the City of Davis for starting a formal investigation and hope that the perpetrators who have done this horrible deed will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” INOC said.
Indian American Muslim Council said that the “heinous act has hurt the sentiments” not just of the Indian American community, but millions of people in the United States who continue to be inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for peace, pluralism and justice.
A large number of peace-loving community members chose peace over violence, love over hatred, and rallied at Central Park in Davis on Sunday, Jan 31st in support of reinstating Gandhi statue & condemning the hatred. Hundreds of people urged the City of Davis Administration to find the culprits and bring them to justice and called upon the entire world to rise as one entity and destroy the nefarious designs of these hate mongers. They also urged the City of Davis Administration to reinstate the statue at the earliest and provide adequate protection in the future.
The car rally and peace vigil were co-hosted by Gandhi Statue for Peace Committee Davis, India Association of Davis (IAD), Indian Association of Sacramento (IAS) & the community at large. The participants were from regions including but not limited to Davis, Sacramento, Greater Sacramento, and Bay Area. The rally started by singing the National Anthem of the USA. The cars were decorated with posters showing their support.
Davis mayor Gloria Partida attended the Gandhi Statue vigil along with vice-mayor Lucas Frerichs and city council members Dan Carson and Will Arnold. The City of Davis issued a statement on the matter, “The City of Davis condemns the vandalism that destroyed the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Central Park. We do not support any actions that include the destruction of property. We sympathize with those who are grieving the destruction of the statue and promise a thorough investigation and full accountability for those who committed this 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 community, said HAF California Advocacy Director Easan Katir.
“If we have learned nothing from the tragic events of recent weeks it is that senseless acts of hatred and violence are never the answer, which Gandhi and my father affirmed through fasting and their lifetimes of struggle. The statue that was desecrated in Davis symbolizes the truth Gandhi expressed: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Let us reject this act of intolerance and vandalism,” said Paul F. Chavez, President, Cesar Chavez Foundation & Son of Cesar Chavez.
“I am in full support of IAS denouncing the vandalism of the Gandhi statue. Gandhi stood for peace through non-violence. This vigil was important to the Indian community as we as a nation and communities around California state, need to practice unity and understanding,” said Chris Clark, the President of Folsom Cordova Unified School District Board of Education.