Mahatma Gandhi statue outside New York's Tulsi Mandir vandalised for 2nd time in two weeks
In a possible hate crime, unidentified persons have destroyed a handcrafted statue of Mahatma Gandhi with a sledgehammer at a Hindu temple in New York after vandalising it earlier this month, media reports said on Friday.
(Image credit: Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol/Twitter)
Unidentified individuals may have committed a probable hate crime by smashing a hand-crafted Mahatma Gandhi statue at a Hindu temple in New York with a sledgehammer after it was vandalised earlier this month, according to reports in the media on Friday.
According to cbsnews.com, a surveillance video captures a person bashing a statue of Gandhi with a sledgehammer on Tuesday before severing the head and knocking it over. A group of six people attacked the statue repeatedly over the course of several minutes, according to the report, before leaving.
"To see them coming after us like this is very painful," Lakhram Maharaj, the founder of Shri Tulsi Mandir, situated in South Richmond Hill, was quoted as saying in the report. Maharaj discovered the Gandhi statue was reduced to rubble on Wednesday morning.
The word "dog" was spray painted both in front of the temple and down the block. The same Gandhi statue was vandalised two weeks ago, investigating officials said.
"When the Gandhi statue was vandalised, that really flew in the face of all of our beliefs, and it's very disturbing for the community," Jenifer Rajkumar, an Assembly member, said in the report.
Media reports said that the New York Police Department is investigating both incidents as possible hate crimes.
Maharaj says many in the community are now afraid to go to the temple. "I cannot show the congregation that I am worried because if I show them that I'm worrying and I'm not strong, how will they be strong?" the report quoted him as saying.
The report said that the temple authorities could not afford to replace the Gandhi statue because it was hand-crafted and cost about USD 4,000. "I want to know why they did it," Maharaj said.
Meanwhile, the Consulate General of India in New York strongly condemned the vandalisation of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and has taken up the matter with US authorities to ensure those responsible for the despicable action are held accountable. The Consulate said in a statement that it strongly condemns the vandalisation of the Mahatma Gandhi statue outside a temple in Queens, New York. "We have taken up the matter with US authorities seeking thorough investigation so that those responsible for such despicable action are held accountable," it added.
This is not the first time a Gandhi statue has been vandalised in the US. An eight-foot-tall statue of Gandhi that was in Union Square in Manhattan was vandalised in February of this year by unidentified people.
In front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC, Khalistani supporters desecrated a Gandhi statue in December 2020. The episode was described as "terrible" by Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary at the time.
(With inputs from PTI)