Top Indian Canadian leader and former Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene to stop the auction of Mahatma Gandhi's artefacts in New York next month.
Dosanjh, who in 2000 created history by becoming the first non-white premier of any Canadian province, told IANS Monday: "I am writing a letter to Dr Singh to impress upon him the importance of acquiring these artefacts."
Gandhi's possessions - sandals, a pair of metal-rimmed glasses, a pocket watch, and a bowl and plate - are set for auction in New York early next month.
Urging India to stop the proposed auction at all costs, the Indian Canadian leader said: "It is incumbent upon the government of India to acquire these artefacts and repatriate them to India. They should be displayed in some museum for the public to see."
Dosanjh, who followed Gandhi's method of non-violence to oppose Khalistani militants in Canada and almost paid with his life in the mid-1980s, said: "I am proud of being an Indian and I take tremendous pride in my Indian heritage.
"Mahatma Gandhi is the most potent symbol of that great heritage. He is the only Indian who is known all over the world.
"India needs to protect everything about the Mahatma - his belongings, his writings, his artefacts or his values."
Currently a member of the Canadian parliament from Vancouver, Dosanjh said: "If I have the resources, I would have bought these artefacts. But then there are so many Indian millionaires and billionaires who can stop this auction.
"If the government of India cannot stop this, these rich Indians should come forward to stop the auction and thus show the world that they care about the Mahatma and their Indian heritage."
He said he shared the dismay of Gandhians at the proposed auction. "India owes it to itself and the world to preserve the belongings and heritage of Mahatma Gandhi," he said.