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New York's Mahatma Gandhi statue vandalized, prompting Indian-American community protests

Bronze monument of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalized in New York City, an act severely condemned as "despicable" by the Consulate General of India

New Yorks Mahatma Gandhi statue vandalized, prompting Indian-American community protests

The vandalism of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in New York has been criticised by Indian-American community leaders, who say it is an insult to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, two figures who strove to abolish hatred.

On Saturday (February 5, local time), a life-sized bronze monument of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised in a New York City neighbourhood, an act severely condemned as "despicable" by the Consulate General of India. According to the consulate in New York, an unknown person destroyed the eight-foot-high statue in Manhattan's Union Square.

"As an African American practitioner of the Hindu dharma, I am deeply offended that anyone would disrespect Mahatma Gandhi, who inspired MLK (Martin Luther King) to take up the mission of non-violence, which inspired major changes in society that are still positively impacting our lives today," said Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dasa (Benny Tillman), president of the Vedic Friends Association.

According to Utsav Chakrabarti, executive director of the HinduPACT, this isn't the first time a Gandhi statue has been vandalised in the United States. "In the past few years, statues of Mahatma Gandhi have been vandalised by groups aligned with radical Islamists and their sympathisers in South Asian communities," he claimed.

Unknown miscreants vandalised, shattered, and removed a monument of Gandhi from its base in a park in California in January of last year, prompting a strong response from India, which demanded a full investigation and appropriate action against those guilty for the "despicable act."

Khalistani supporters desecrated a Gandhi statue in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC in December 2020. In June 2020, unknown vandals vandalised the Gandhi statue outside the Indian embassy in the United States with graffiti and spray painting, causing the mission to file a complaint with local law enforcement.

Gandhi and the liberation struggle he spearheaded acted as an inspiration for King and the American Civil Rights movement, according to Ajay Shah, convenor of the American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD). "The MLK Memorial in Atlanta, GA has an area dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi. It is no coincidence that 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," Shah said.

The largest number of Gandhi statues outside India are in the US. The consulate had said that "the matter (the vandalism in New York) has also been taken up with the US State Department for immediate investigation and urged appropriate action against those responsible for this despicable act".

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