In a suspected hate crime, Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was vandalized by unknown miscreants outside a temple in New York. The $4000 handcrafted statue was allegedly destroyed using a sledgehammer after being vandalized earlier this month.
According to CBS news, the surveillance video at the location shows a person thrashing the statue with a sledgehammer before smashing the head and toppling it over. The footage also shows a group of six unidentified men stomping it, taking turns to hammer it before fleeing.
“To see them coming after us like this is very painful.” expressed Lakhram Maharaj, the founder of the Shri Tulsi Mandir.
The destroyed statue was discovered by Maharaj on Wednesday morning.
An official of the New York state assembly, Jenifer Rajkumar in a statement said, “In an act outraging the entire Queens community and peace-loving people worldwide, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside Shri Tulsi Mandir was vandalized for a second time.”
“This time the statue was totally destroyed and graffiti with obscene names. Vandals also graffiti with mandir grounds and 111th Street asphalt.” the Indian American lawmaker explained.
What did the NYPD say?
In a statement to PTI, The New York City Police Department said it was reported to police on August 16 that a group of 6 unidentified male individuals damaged and vandalized a religious statue with a sledgehammer in front of the Shri Tulsi Mandir located at 103-26 111 Street.
Adding that the approximate age of the alleged miscreants would be about 25 to 30 years of age, the NYPD added that the male individuals then fled toward liberty avenue and entered two vehicles. “A white Mercedes Benz and a dark color possibly a Toyota Camry with possible taxi livery sticker on the back passenger window,” they said.
I want to know why they did it, Maharaj said
Apparently, obscene names including ‘dog’ and ‘gandpi dog’ were also spray painted in front of the temple and around the block.
Devotees are afraid to go to the temple.
The statue of Gandhi before the incident.
Maharaj laments how the events shook the conscience of the entire Indian community.
“I cannot show the congregation that I am worried because if I show them that I am worrying and I’m not strong, how will they be strong?” He was quoted as saying.
“When the Gandhi statue was vandalized, it really flew in the face of our beliefs and was very disturbing for our community,” said Rajkumar who represents the Queens area in the New York State Assembly.
“I call for the perpetrators to be appended swiftly, charged, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she stated in her statement.
Appreciating the outpour of support, she added that “I have spoken with government leaders across the country. All are committed to redoubling our efforts to combat anti-Hindu hate. We always knew that defeating hate would not be accomplished in one day, one week, or even one year.”
How did the Indian embassy in new york react to this?
On Friday, the Consultant General of India in New York said it strongly condemns the vandalization of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue outside a temple in Queens New York. “We have taken the matter with the US authorities seeking thorough investigation so that those responsible for such despicable action are held accountable,” they added.
Ankur Vaidya, Chairman of diaspora organization Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) said, “We sincerely urge the Mayor’s office and the NYPD to investigate this malicious act as a hate crime and bring these criminals to justice. It is clear that the ones that perpetuate these sorts of vandalisms will have the will and intention to do more malice to create negative sensationalism.”
“The incident is an act of hate and aggression and has repeated itself more times this year than in the history of the city previously,” he said.
The NYPD has requested the public’s assistance in ascertaining the whereabouts of the miscreants and urged anyone with information related to the incident to call its Crime Stoppers Hotline or submit their tips at the Crime Stoppers website.