A statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside a temple in Queens, New York was destroyed by miscreants in a second such attack in two weeks. The incident took place in the wee hours Tuesday morning and is the the latest in a series of attacks on Gandhi statues in the US .
CCTV footage shows six men, in the age group 25-30 destroying the statue at the Sri Tulsi Mandir with a sledgehammer. Minutes later, the group stomp on it and take turns hammering the statue before taking off. They also sprayed hate words and obscenities around it and on the adjoining road (111th Street), according to media reports quoting the police. The temple is located in South Richmond Park, an area with many people of Indian descent.
Two weeks earlier, on August 3, the same statue, standing outside the Shri Tulsi Mandir since seven years, had been knocked over, prompting community-wide outrage over increasing hate crimes across the country. The second attack saw the statue completely demolished.
“Gandhiji represents peace and to outrage his statue is a sad incident,” Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, the founder of the Shri Tulsi Mandir in South Richmond Hill, was quoted in the Queens Courier.
New York State Assembly member Jennifer Rajkumar tweeted condemning the incident and of working towards peaceful ways to “combat anti-Hindu hate”. She also called for “the perpetrators to be apprehended swiftly, charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law”.
According to a CBS News report, hate crime in the city has gone up to 15.7% as compared to last year. A Rutgers University report also finds evidence of sharply increasing hate speech directed towards the Hindu community on social media by mostly white supremacists. On July 14 this year, in a similar incident, a Mahatma Gandhi statue was vandalised in Canada which saw widespread condemnation. In February this year, another life-sized Gandhi statue was destroyed in Manhattan, NYC.