Gandhi statue vandalised in Britain, evokes anger

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2014 13:42 IST

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the east Midlands town of Leicester has been vandalised with g raf fiti stating ‘ Never Forget 1984 ’ and ‘We Want Justice #84’, prompting anger in the town with a l arg e population of Indianorigin people.

The local council removed the graffiti on Sunday, but it is being treated as criminal damage by the Leicester police.

The statue, by Kolkata-based sculptor Gautam Pal, was installed in 2009 at a cost of 20,000 pounds by a charity organisation, Samanwaya Parivar.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz asked the Leicester council to install CCTV cameras to monitor the area, while other community leaders — such as local councillors Sundeep Meghani, Manjula Sood and Vijay Singh Riyait — condemned the incident.

The incident came to light on a day when thousands of Sikhs from all over Britain and Europe arrived in London for a ‘march for justice’ from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park on the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar in Amritsar.

Surinder Pal, general secretary of the East Park Road Gurdwara in Leicester, said nobody should be resorting to acts like this: “There are ways of making people aware of what happened in 1984, but this is not one of them.”

Vaz said: “I am shocked by the foolish and wilful vandalism of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue. This is a deliberate act by individuals who ought to be ashamed of themselves. Thousands of people — from Prime Ministers to ordinary worshippers — have come to visit this Leicester landmark.”

Sikhs in Britain have also been angered by revelations in newlyreleased archives that Britain had agreed to prove specialist advice to India on clearing the Golden Temple complex months before Operation Bluestar in June 1984.

The seven- and- a-half-foot bronze statue is the second Gandhi statue in a British town; the first was installed in Tavistock Square in London in 1968.

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