India flags vandalisation of Mahatma Gandhi statues to Canadian government
The latest such incident involved the decapitation of a Mahatma Gandhi sculpture located on the campus of the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. That incident occurred last Monday
Toronto: India has flagged the series of episodes of vandalism targeting statues of Mahatma Gandhi to the Canadian government.
India’s High Commission in Ottawa has communicated this concern to Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, a senior Indian official said.
The latest such incident involved the decapitation of a Gandhi sculpture located on the campus of the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. That incident occurred last Monday.
Four days earlier, on March 23, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, located at the City Hall in the town of Hamilton in Ontario was defaced and anti-India and pro-Khalistan graffiti spray-painted near its base. That incident is being investigated by Hamilton Police’s Hate Crime Unit.
In July last year, another statue, located at the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, was also defaced. The 20-foot tall bronze statue was situated in the temple’s Peace Park.
Canadian police has set up a dedicated information line as it seeks cooperation of the public in its ongoing investigation into the decapitation of the bust in Burnaby.
In a statement on Thursday, the Burnaby unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it had “created a special phone information line in relation to a deliberate act of vandalism that damaged a statue at Simon Fraser University”.
Burnaby RCMP launched an investigation into the vandalism on Tuesday. “We are appealing for assistance from the public as we believe there are people that have information that could help our investigators,” Burnaby RCMP Cpl Mike Kalanj said.
Investigators believe a power tool was likely used in decapitating the bust. In a release issued on Tuesday, Kalanj had noted that Burnaby RCMP was “aware that Gandhi statues have been damaged in other areas of Canada in the past” and “are looking at all aspects of this incident, including the possible motivation”.
The vandalism had drawn a sharp reaction from India’s consulate in Vancouver, as it tweeted, “We strongly condemn the heinous crime of vandalising the statue of harbinger of peace Mahatma Gandhi.”
The university also condemned the incident, as it said in a statement, “We are deeply disappointed that someone would do such an act. Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The bust has been a fixture at the campus since 1970, and was created at the Fine Arts Studio of the Wagh Brothers in Mumbai.
On October 2 every year, the university organises garlanding of the bust.
None of these incidents have so far resulted in arrests. While they have been linked by some to the so-called Punjab Referendum being organised by the secessionist group, Sikhs for Justice, Canadian law enforcement has yet to establish that connection.
Statues of the Mahatma have been targeted in North America even earlier. In February last year, one was discovered decapitated in New York, while in January 2021, another was vandalised in Davis, California.