The United States has strongly condemned the defacing of a Mahatma Gandhi statue last week in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington DC as the White House described the incident as “terrible”, stressing that he “fought for the values that America represents” . This is the second incident in less than six months.
“It’s terrible. No statue or memorial should be desecrated and certainly not one like that of Gandhi who really fought for the values that America represents of peace, justice, and freedom,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“It is appalling that it has happened more than once and we believe the reputation of Mahatma Gandhi should be respected, especially here in America’s capital,” she added.
The statue at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza “was defaced by Khalistani elements” on December 12, the Indian Embassy had said in a statement last week. The incident happened when a group took out a rally to back the farmers protesting around Delhi borders against the centre’s agricultural laws.
“The Embassy strongly condemns this mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon of peace and justice. 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,” the official statement read.
On Tuesday, the US State Department responded to the incident saying takes “safety and security of foreign missions very seriously”, adding it is discussing the issue with the Indian Embassy.
The Mahatma Gandhi statue that was targeted last week was unveiled by former former Prime Miister Atal Bhari Vajpayee in the presence of then US president Bill Clinton on September 16, 2000.
A similar incident was reported in June amid protests against the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A massive protest started late November around Delhi borders against controversial farm laws. Thousands are camping on the outskirts of the city as they demand repeal of the laws while the government says they’re being misled amid repeated assurances that the laws will bring the much-needed reforms in the agricultural sectors. Farmers say these legislations leave them at the mercy of corporates.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI)