By: Archana Naresh
February 8 2021
An investigation is currently underway. Whether Khalistani separatists were responsible for the incident is unverified.
An investigation is currently underway. Whether Khalistani separatists were responsible for the incident is unverified.The Indian Council of Cultural Relations donated a bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi to the city of Davis, California, in 2016. In late January 2021, the statue's ankles and head had been sawed in half by unknown persons. The vandalized statue was left at Davis Central Park in San Francisco, California. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs condemned the act and sought a thorough investigation into the matter. Many Indian-American groups alleged that the vandalism was malicious and expressed their shock and disbelief at the incident. The same statue had been vandalized in June 2020. On this occasion, the vandals had defaced the statue using red and black spray paint. Moreover, in December 2020, the Indian Express states that: "Khalistani-supporters had desecrated a Mahatma Gandhi statue in Washington, DC in front of the Indian Embassy." After the approval for the installation of the statue in 2016 by Davis City Council, members of the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI), raised opposition to the statue. Opposition to the statue also came from members of the local Sikh community at the time. OFMI launched a campaign to remove the statue. Guarang Desai, of the Friends of India Society International (FISI), told the Indian Express: “An atmosphere of hatred was being created by many anti-India and Hinduphobic radical organizations like OFMI and other Khalistani separatists for many years now.” The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has called upon the Department of Homeland security and the FBI to investigate the incident as a hate crime. They claim that this was likely done to intimidate the Indian-American community. PTI reported that the damaged statue's photos were shared on a pro-Khalistan separatist group from California on Twitter. There is no official word from the Davis police or any other official sources regarding who was behind the incident at the time of writing. The last available updates indicated that the police were still working on finding the suspects. Thus, we cannot confirm that Khalistani separatists were responsible for vandalizing the Gandhi statue at Davis Central Park, and we will update the claim as soon as new information surfaces.