Washington, February 2
A large number of Indian Americans held a community vigil at a city park in California, where unknown miscreants vandalised a statue of Mahatma Gandhi last week.
A bronze statue of Gandhi in the Central Park of the city of Davis in northern California was vandalised, broken and ripped from the base by unknown miscreants last week. The city has registered a case and is investigating the incident.
Addressing the vigil at the Central Park, Gloria Partida, the Mayor of the City of Davis, deeply regretted the act of vandalism and said, “Vandalism will never be condoned. Gandhi is our inspiration and we will not allow this. Not on our watch.”
The vigil was organised by the Indian Association of Sacramento (IAS), along with other Indian-American and Hindu-American organisations.
Speaking at the peace vigil at the park, Shyam Goyal, retired professor, University of California at Davis and a member of Gandhi Statue For Peace Committee, expressed deep shock at the act of vandalism and said, “Mahatma Gandhi is inescapable in the world today in order to solve our problem in a peaceful and non-violent way.”
A group of radical Khalistani separatists-led “Organisation For Minorities In India” (OFMI) shouted obscene slogans against Gandhi and tried to disrupt the peace vigil.
They demanded that the statue not be restored. Nanak Bhatti of the OFMI, who was part of the protest at the park, said the city of Davis did not deserve the Gandhi statue and asked: “why was the statue put there in the first place?”
The IAS said the pro-Khalistan protesters tried to intimidate the attendees in an attempt to stop the event and also tried to assault a woman speaker at the event. Police had to be called in to control the aggressive protesters. According to a media release issued by the association, a police report has been filed about the assault on the woman speaker.
The organisers of the vigil said Khalistani separatist organisations, led by the OFMI and its leaders Bhajan Singh Bhindar and Pieter Friedrich, had been demanding that the Gandhi statue be removed from the park ever since it was installed by the city of Davis in 2016.
Many pro-Khalistan Twitter handles expressed happiness at the statue being vandalised. OFMI leader Friedrich said in a tweet that Gandhi statues are controversial and expressed happiness that “someone finally tore one of them down”. Some pro-Khalistan supporters also threatened to bring it down again and deface it worse if it were to be reinstated.
The IAS said it awaits justice and the restoration of the statue at Central Park. —PTI