Mahatma Gandhi’s statue vandalized in New York, Indian diaspora condemns ‘despicable act’

New York: A life-sized bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalized in a New York City neighborhood on Saturday, an act strongly condemned as ‘despicable’ by the Consulate General of India. 

The incident took place early on Saturday, Feb 5th when the statue was defaced by some unknown persons, the Consulate General of India in New York said. “The Consulate condemns this act of vandalism in the strongest terms,” it said, adding that the matter has been taken up with local authorities. 

The incident has shocked the Indian-American community here. Leading diaspora organization Federation of Indian Associations — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (FIA-NY NJ CT) strongly condemned the ‘cowardly act’ perpetrated against the statue of the Father of the Nation. “It is a very sad moment to see somebody whose pervertedness is to the extent where they chose to deface a statue of a distinguished leader and personality who is known globally for the message of peace and non-violence,” FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya told PTI.  

Vaidya urged authorities to take strict action against those who carried out the vandalism. He added that it must be ensured that the course of justice prevails in a rapid manner for this cowardly act. “We personally, as individuals and as organizations, should write to the Mayor’s Office to take the strictest action for those responsible for this kind of cowardly act of defacing the statue of our Father of the Nation,” he said. 

The Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT) sees this hate crime against Hindus and Indian Americans – which took place during Black History Month, nonetheless – as an affront to both Gandhi and the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; two public figures and leaders who sought to eradicate hate on the basis of race, religion, and creed.
Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dāsa (Benny Tillman), President,Vedic Friends Association said, “Some years ago I had the great fortune of attending the annual Gandhi/ King celebration in Atlanta, and the keynote speaker that year was MLK’s wife Coretta Scott King.” Dāsa recalls her saying “My husband MLK, was a disciple of Gandhi.” Dāsa added: “As an African American practitioner of the Hindu Dharma, I am deeply offended that anyone would disrespect Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired MLK to take up the mission of non-violence, which inspired major changes in society that are still positively impacting our lives today.” 

Utsav Chakrabarti, Executive Director of HinduPACT said, “This is not the first time that statues of Mahatma Gandhi have been vandalized in the US. In the past few years, statues of Mahatma Gandhi had been vandalized by groups aligned with radical Islamists and their sympathizers in South Asian communities.” 

Ajay Shah, President of the World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) and Convenor of HinduPACT and American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) said, “It is no coincidence that Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was desecrated during the Black History Month. The perpetrators of this act and their sponsors are sending the message that they have not accepted peace, human rights, freedom, and equality of all human beings.” 

“We Indian Americans are deeply hurt by the disrespect shown to Gandhiji, especially when we are observing the Black History Month,” said Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) International. 

“Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the Nation in India and an apostle of peace and vandalizing the statue is not acceptable and the culprit must be apprehended and punished,” said GOPIO Manhattan President Shivender Sofat. 

GOPIO has written a letter to Mayor Eric Adams to take immediate action against those people responsible for this despicable act. 

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