Washington, Aug 25 (PTI) The White House and New York City Mayor on Wednesday strongly condemned recent cases of vandalism of Mahatma Gandhi statues in the country, with the latest one being in New York.
“Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, has an enduring message of truth and nonviolence, serves as an inspiration. As you said, the President has spoken to this directly and specifically. Any act of vandalism should be condemned in the strongest terms,” White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre told reporters at her daily news conference.
She was responding to questions on the recent increase in instances of vandalism of statues of Mahatma Gandhi in various parts of the country, with two of them being in New York itself. The New York Police Department is investigating at least one of them as a hate crime.
“I’ll refer you to the local law enforcement for more on any investigation or actions that may be taken from that from their point of view,” she said when asked about the investigations in this regard.
“The United States is committed to ensuring safety, security … Indian and other foreign counterparts. It is something that we condemned, any acts of violence. You’ve heard us say these many times before from this podium. And again, Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiration. You have heard that directly from the president many times,” the press secretary said.
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams along with several city leaders visited the site of vandalism of Gandhi statue in New York. The city has seen two incidents of vandalism of Gandhi statue in a month: August 3 and August 16.
“Hate has no place in Richmond Hill. Hate has no place in New York City. Hate has no place in our country,” Adams told reporters as he visited Tulsi Mandir in Richmond Hill, the site of the latest vandalism incident. The event was organized by the New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.
“We are not going to stand back and allow attacks on our houses of worship. They play a crucial role in closing the gap between government and the needs of people. We will not allow an individual to participate in this hate going unapprehended,” he said.
“(But) there’s another road. There’’ a road that goes far beyond the law enforcement arm. The goal is not only responding to hate but preventing hate … We’re going to zero in on our classes. We are going to encourage you to participate in our ‘Breaking Bread, Building Bonds’ one hundred dinners across the city…[people] all coming from a different background, talking to each other, sharing who we are, why we do what we do,” Adams said in his remarks at the event which was also addressed by several other community leaders.
“The Gandhi statue may be gone, but we will continue to spread his message of peace and love throughout the city, the state and the entire nation,” Rajkumar said. “I stand here today before you with pride as the first Hindu-American ever elected to the New York State Office,” she said.
Observing that Mahatma Gandhi is part of the Civil Rights tradition of the United States, Rajkumar said “Hindu-Americans have a central place in the Civil Rights tradition of our country”.
“It was Mahatma Gandhi that inspired Martin Luther King and his technique of non-violent social change,” she said in the presence of eminent Hindu-American leaders.
The event was also addressed by India’s Consul General in New York, Shri Tulsi Mandir founder Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, US Congressman Gregory Meeks, and Hindu-American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla.
The New York Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Andrew Arias of the NYPD hate crime task force assured the community that the culprits would be brought to book. “The NYPD is here to say that we will never tolerate hate or violence of any kind in New York City. At this time, we have an active and ongoing investigation into this pattern of crimes that was so callously committed here in August,” he said. PTI LKJ CK
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