A statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of a temple in New York has been toppled and smashed in the second attack on the memorial this month.
The incident in the early hours of August 16 was the latest in a series of attacks on Gandhi statues in the US.
Six men destroyed the statue at the Sri Tulsi Mandir with a sledgehammer and painted hate-filled words, around it and on the road, according to media reports quoting police.
The statue of Mahatma GAndhi had been vandalised earlier on August 3 and knocked over, according to the Queens Daily Eagle.
Police released a surveillance video of the men between 25-30 years who are suspected of involvement in the attack.
They fled the scene in a white Mercedes Benz and in a dark-coloured car that may be a Toyota Camry used as a for-hire vehicle, according to police.
Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Hindu elected to the New York State legislature, told CBS New York TV on August 18: “When the Mahatma Gandhi statue was vandalised, that really flew in the face of all of our beliefs and it’s very disturbing for the community.”
“To know that Gandhi represents peace and somebody would come and just target the statue and vandalize it, it’s very sad,” temple founder Pandit Maharaj told the New York Post.
— Jenifer Rajkumar (@JeniferRajkumar) August 19, 2022
Meanwhile, volunteer watch group, the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol, tweeted on August 18 that its members increased their presence around the temple.
“We increased our presence at Tulsi Mandir and were happy to see (police from) the 106 Precinct there as well. A big thank you to our four volunteers who were out for 7 hours overnight,” it said in a tweet.
After the first attack, Rajkumar had brought together several elected officials, including House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks, to condemn the attack and demand police action.
“Acts of hate have no place in our community and nation and the perpetrators need to be held accountable,” Meeks was quoted by the Daily Eagle.
The temple is located in South Richmond Park, an area with many people of Indian descent.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the vandalism at the Tulsi Mandir last night. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it must stop. We must work together to send a clear message that hate crimes towards any religion will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/DLXz7BrWcO
— Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (@COPCP2020) August 16, 2022
A combination of leftists and Khalistanis have targeted Gandhi statues across the US, sometimes by circulating petitions for removing them, as in the case of another statue in New York City that was also vandalised by placing a shroud over it, and at other times by damaging them.
During the protests against police excesses in February 2020, a statue in Washington had vile personal attacks on Gandhi and anti-India slogans painted on it.
It was vandalised again in December that year by pro-Khalistani elements during a protest in support of the farmers’ agitation in India.
In another incident, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was cut at its leg and toppled over and its head was cut in half in Davis, California, in January last year.
The same statue had also been vandalised with slogans in June 2020.