Second attack on Gandhi statue in New York City at Queens Shri Tulsi Mandir

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Mahatma Gandhi spinning cotton. Photo: courtesy hinduamerican.org

The Mahatma Gandhi statue that stood in front of the Shri Tulsi Mandir in Queens, NYC, has been vandalized twice over the last few weeks, a troubling development for Indian-Americans in the area and beyond.

Despite public furor, and press conferences by elected officials led by local New York State Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar, after the first incident on Aug. 3, 2022, the vandals returned to attack the statue again Aug. 17, this time destroying it completely. A video recording and news report in New York Daily News showed several men carrying out the destruction of the statue.

Rajkumar had declared zero tolerance for such acts of alleged hate crime, and she was joined then by among others, Hindu American Foundation’s Executive Director Suhag Shukla.

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Shukla reiterated that call August 22, 2022, saying, “The violent attack on a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, at a Hindu temple no less, was meant to instill fear in the Queens community and send a message that Hindus are not safe to worship however or respect whomever they choose—the very definition of a hate crime.”

On Gandhi’s legacy, she said, “Believe what you may about historical figures like Gandhi, but violence can never be the answer to resolving differences of opinion in a free and pluralistic society. Gandhi’s evolution in certain beliefs he may have held early in his career should serve as a lesson of the human capacity to change. Racist statements in his youth radically evolving to a robust period of mutual inspiration and dialogue with American civil rights leaders from Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver to Martin Luther King is well known, and today, needs to be acknowledged more than ever,” Shukla added.

In its press release, HAF attached a link to the Video footage of the latest attack which shows six men smashing the statue with a sledgehammer while hurling slurs. The HAF noted that over the past two years, there has been a spike in attacks on Gandhi statues across the US. Including in Washington DC, New York City’s Union SquareSan FranciscoChicago, and the city of Davis, CA. Statues in Toronto, Canada and Victoria, Australia have also seen attacks.

According to NY Daily News, the Gandhi statue at Shri Tulsi Mandir was paid for by the congregation and brought from Guyana at a cost of $3,000.

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