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US President Joe Biden spokesperson condemns Mahatma Gandhi-statue desecration

US President Joe Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki has condemned the desecration of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in California and expressed concern over the incident.

Mahatma Gandhi

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 Feb 2021 9:32 AM GMT

New York: US President Joe Biden's Press Secretary Jen Psaki has condemned the desecration of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in California and expressed concern over the incident. "We certainly would have concern about the desecration of monuments of Gandhi. And you know, that's certainly what we would express," Psaki said on Monday.

"But certainly we would, you know, condemn that desecration and watch it closely." Asked by a reporter about Biden's thoughts on the attack, she said: "If there's more to share on the President's point of view on it, I'm happy to get back to you on that."

The statue of Gandhi in Davis was cut down at its feet and the head was cut in half after it was toppled between the night of January 26 and January 27. This is the second time that the statue was vandalised.

Obscene drawings were made on the base of the statue and crude insults were written in June 2020. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has asked the Biden administration to investigate the latest incident as a hate crime.

"We condemn this cowardly desecration and call upon the Department of Homeland Security and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to investigate this hate crime, as it was likely done with the intention of intimidating the Indian-American community," HAF's California Advocacy Director Easan Katir said.

In his election manifesto for Indian-Americans, Biden had assured the community that he "will appoint leaders at the Department of Justice who will prioritise the prosecution of hate crimes".

The President's manifesto said that "he will order his Justice Department to focus additional resources to combat hate crimes, including religion-based hate crimes, and to confront White nationalist terrorism".

While those behind the Davis desecration have not been identified, the opposition to honouring Gandhi has not been coming from White nationalist groups but from others.

During the height of the Black Lives Movement against police brutality last year, the base of a statue of Gandhi in Washington was also defaced with personal insults against him and as well as India.

The protests backed by the Democratic Party included a radical left element made up of agitators of various races, including White, who destroyed property and vandalised monuments. Two protests were held on Sunday at the site where the Gandhi statue had stood, according to KCRA TV in Sacramento, the capital of California.

One was against the statue's desecration and demanding security for the statue. The other was by people who "said they were glad the statue had been removed", the TV station reported. The news clip from the station showed people in the group carrying saffron flag with a Sikh religious symbol and a sign, "Ambedkar: Hero of minorities". A member of the group identified by KCRA TV as Nanak Bhatti said: "They are angry that the statue has been desecrated, they should not have put the statue in the first place. Why did they put it over here? Does the city of Davis deserve this statue? No."

In June 2020, a protest was held in Davis mostly by Sikhs, but also included others, demanding the statue's removal, the Davis Vanguard reported. (IANS)

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