Khalistani elements in the US while protesting against the farm laws in India defaced and vandalised Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Washington DC. Khalistani flags were also placed on Mahatma Gandhi’s bust by the Khalistanis. The statue is located in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington.
The statue is placed outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC.
The Embassy officials said, “The Embassy strongly condemns this mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon of peace and justice.” The protesters have spray painted the statue and made graffiti on it. The Indian mission has registered a complaint with the local law enforcement agencies. The authorities later covered the figure, and the site was cleaned up.
The Embassy has lodged a strong protest with US law enforcement agencies and has also taken up the matter with the US Department of State for an early investigation and action against the culprits under the applicable law: Indian Embassy in Washington DC, US— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2020
The statue was unveiled on September 16, 2000, by then-Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during his state visit to the US. Then-President Bill Clinton was present during the unveiling ceremony.
“Why not Him?” says protester
Mansimran Singh, one of the organisers of the protest, said, “This protest is not particularly against the government but in support of the farmers. It is against the current administration there. We see this bill as eradication of our culture.”
#WATCH | US: One of the organisers of the anti-farm laws protest at Washington DC, where Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was vandalised, replies to questions on the presence of pro-Khalistani elements at the protest & vandalism of the statue. pic.twitter.com/UMieXBuFXb— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2020
When he was asked about defacing Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, he said, “In America, all confederate statues were vandalised and now they have been taken down. So why not him?”
Removal of confederate monuments and memorials in the US is an ongoing process since the 1960s. Protestors have been tearing down public properties which according to them ‘glorify white supremacy’. Majority of these confederate statues and monuments were put up between 1877 to 1964. The detractors allege that they were not put up as memorials but as a means to intimidate African Americans and reaffirming white supremacy.
Another protester Manmeet Singh said that protests at the Embassy were non-violent and peaceful. When he was asked about the Khalistani flags being spotted at the protests, he said, “The organisers will raise the Khalistan issue on another platform on another day. We want the media to concern on the farmers’ issue. This is not a regional issue.”
Statue Vandalism during George Floyd protests
In June this year, during the George Floyd protests in the US, Mahatma Gandhi’s statue was vandalised by the protesters. An expert was called to repair the statue at that time. The Indian Embassy had then registered cases with the National Park Police and the Metropolitan Police. The incident was also reported to the State Department. Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun, called the Indian ambassador to talk about the incident. Biegun had apologised for the incident. A month later, he, along with Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian envoy to the United States, had inaugurated the refurbished statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Farmers’ protests in India
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting against the recently passed Agriculture laws. They are lodged at the borders of Delhi for three weeks now. There have been reports that the protests are being taken over by Maoists and Khalistani elements. The unions are openly asking for the release of Naxalites and Delhi Riots 2020 accused that has nothing to do with the Agriculture laws. Open threats to PM Modi and derogatory language against Hindus have become a part of the protests.
While the government is ready to take and has tried to alleviate the situation, the farmer unions are not interested in any amendments in the laws and demanding the laws should be repealed. Reports have suggested that while the protests are going on, farmers in several parts of the country are already benefiting from these laws.