The ink had barely dried on the stories being written on the unveiling of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Australian Indian Community Charitable Trust’s Indian Community Centre in Rowville (Melbourne) when miscreants struck and vandalized the Gandhi statue attempting to chop off the head with possibly some heavy power tools.
To unveil the statue, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had attended the ceremony on Friday, 12 November along with his Federal colleagues Education Minister Allan Tudge and Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood, the Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy and India’s Consul General in Melbourne Raj Kumar.
The 460 kilograms weighing statue flown by air into Melbourne, was very generously donated to the Indian Community by the government of India. The donation was made possible by the untiring work of the Consul General Raj Kumar and the board of the AICCT.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Morrison thanked the Indian Consul General saying
“… I particularly thank you very much for the very kind and generous donation of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Thank you very much, thank you.”
Mr Morrison had also unveiled Mahatma Gandhi statue in Paramatta (Sydney) when the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind had visited Australia in November 2018.
“It is the second occasion where I’ve had the great honour to be able to unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Here, of course, today in Victoria, and some years ago when the President of India was in Australia and I had the great honour to join him in unveiling the statue in Parramatta”, Mr Morrison reminisced.
In so many ways, like the very community we’re joining here with, Vasan who’s been a great leader of the Indian community here in Victoria for a very long time.
Can I congratulate the Australian Indian Community Charitable Trust, and Vasan especially, on this wonderful community asset. You know, Australians have a way of appropriating everybody’s parties.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Morrison also said, “…there is just an easiness, a natural connection between Indian culture and this wonderful land. And it just sits very comfortably and it comes so naturally.
“And that’s why community centres such as this are so important … we do share very important beliefs and values in democracy and liberal democracy, in believing in the individual, their enterprise and their freedom, in particular.
“And to unveil a statue in honour of Mahatma Gandhi, this is a very important opportunity for us to reflect on that particular element of the relationship.”
The ceremony commenced at 1.00 pm on Friday, 12 November and formally concluded at around 3.00 pm.
The AICCT informs the culprits vandalized the statue within 24 hours – between 5.30 pm (on the same day) and 5.30 pm on Saturday, November 13.
Apparently power tools have been used attempting to cut the head of the statue.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison devastated
When informed of the vandalism attack on the Mahatma Gandhi statue he had just unveiled the previous day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:
“I am devastated to hear that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Australia Indian Community Centre in Rowville, Victoria has been vandalised after it was unveiled on Friday.
Australia is the most successful multicultural and immigration nation in the world and attacks on cultural monuments will not be tolerated.
It is disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect.
Whoever is responsible for this has shown great disrespect to the Australian Indian community and should be ashamed.”
Victorian leader of Opposition Matthew Guy has also condemned the attack.
“I am deeply disappointed and saddened by the vandalizing of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Australian Indian Community Centre on Friday. Mahatma Gandhi was a pivotal figure in world history. He taught us compassion, selflessness, harmony, tolerance and respect – values that resonate with all of us.
“This attack has no place in our society”.
Talking to Bharat Times, a devastated Vasan Srinivasan, chairperson of the AICCT said:
“It truly saddens us that someone would vandalize this statue within 24 hours of its unveiling. The aim of the statue was to celebrate India’s history, its 75th year of Independence and highlight the richness of culture across the country.
“It’s disappointing to see this level of disrespect of India’s history displayed towards the community in the most multicultural state in Australia. Whilst Mahatama Gandhi may not be a figurehead in the wider Australian community, his history is well known among all Indians.”
Read AICCT statement here.
Police has been called in to look into the desecration act and catch the culprits. BT believes they will be closely scanning the CCTV footage, not only of the building but also the adjacent buildings to track down the miscreants who have vandalized the Gandhi statue to face the law.
“Mahatma Gandhi is a figure representing (international) peace and non-violence and someone who has been violent to his statue may also need mental health support”, Mr Vasan added.
It is disturbing to see such extreme hatred for Mahatma Gandhi in Australia where his statue is vandalized in an attempt to cut off its head. The community is shaken and angry at the same time. They want the culprits to be brought to book as soon as possible.