Washington, Jun 4 (PTI) Unknown miscreants have vandalised the statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Indian embassy in the US with graffiti and spray painting, prompting the mission to register a complaint with the local law enforcement agencies.
Vandalism of the statue of the apostle of peace happened during the week of nationwide protests against the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
The incident is reported to have taken place on the intervening night of June 2 and 3, officials said.
The Indian embassy has informed the State Department and registered a complaint with local law enforcement agencies, which are now conducting an investigation into the incident.
On Wednesday, a team of officials from Metropolitan Police in consultation with the Diplomatic Security Service and National Park Police visited the site and are conducting inquiries.
Efforts are on to clean up the site at the earliest.
US Ambassador to India Ken Juster on Thursday apologised for the desecration of Mahatma Gandhi’s statute outside the Indian embassy in the US capital.
“So sorry to see the desecration of the Gandhi statue in Wash, DC. Please accept our sincere apologies. Appalled as well by the horrific death of George Floyd & the awful violence & vandalism. We stand against prejudice & discrimination of any type. We will recover & be better,” Juster tweeted.
Several protests in the US against police brutality against African-Americans have turned violent. In some cases, the violent protests have damaged some of the most prestigious and sacred American monuments.
In Washington DC, protestors this week burnt a historic church and damaged some of the prime properties and historic places like the national monument and Lincoln Memorial.
One of the few statues of a foreign leader on a federal land in Washington DC, the statue of Mahatma Gandhi was dedicated by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in the presence of the then US president Bill Clinton on September 16, 2000 during his state visit to the US.
In October 1998, the US Congress had authorised the government of India to establish and maintain a memorial to honour Mahatma Gandhi on Federal land in the District of Columbia.”
According to the Indian Embassy website, the sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi is cast in bronze as a statue to a height of 8 feet 8 inches.
It shows Gandhi in stride, as a leader and man of action evoking memories of his 1930 protest march against salt-tax, and the many padyatras (long marches) he undertook throughout the length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent.
The statue, the design of which was created by Gautam Pal, is a gift from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The pedestal for the statue of Mahatma Gandhi is a block of new Imperial Red also known as Ruby Red a block originally weighing 25 tonnes reduced to a size of 9’x7’x3’4″. It now weighs 16 tonnes.