A statue of Mahatma Gandhi was defaced in Washington DC by a group of protesters who had gathered in support of farmers agitating in India against three recently-enacted agricultural laws. The Indian Embassy has alleged the involvement of “Khalistani elements” in the act since separatist flags were sighted amid the protesting crowd.
An official statement said on Saturday that a strong protest had been lodged with law enforcement agencies in the US capital. The vandalised statue is located in front of the embassy.
“The statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza in front of the Embassy was defaced by Khalistani elements on December 12, 2020. The Embassy strongly condemns this mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon of peace and justice,” a statement from the Indian Embassy said.
Hundreds of Sikhs from in and around the Greater Washington DC area, Maryland, and Virginia, along with many from other states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, had on Saturday carried out a car rally to the Indian Embassy, in solidarity with protesting Indian farmers.
However, the peaceful protest was soon hijacked by “separatist Sikhs” carrying “Khalistani flags” with anti-India posters and banners that said they represent “The Republic of Khalistan”, PTI reported.
Shortly after, a yellow-coloured flag was reportedly draped on the head and face of the Mahatma Gandhi statue, along with cardboard cutouts and placards propped or pasted on it. The statue was unveiled by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000 in the presence of then US president Bill Clinton.
Later they also hung a dummy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture with a rope around the neck of the statue, PTI reported.
Thousands of farmers across India, especially those from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting for the past few weeks against three central government agricultural laws passed in September, gathering support from many political parties.