WASHINGTON, Dec 13: Members of Khalistani separatists desecrated the statue of Mahatma Gandhi during a protest organised by Sikh-American youths in support of farmers who are protesting against the recently enacted agri laws in India.
Hundreds of Sikhs from in and around Greater Washington DC area, Maryland and Virginia, along with many from other states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina, on Saturday carried out a car rally to the Indian Embassy in downtown Washington DC, where they gathered to express solidarity with the protesting farmers.
However, the peaceful protest was soon hijacked by the separatist Sikhs who were carrying Khalistani flags with anti-India posters and banners which said they represent The Republic of Khalistan .
During the protest, many of the pro-Khalistan Sikh youths flashing Kirpans jumped on the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and pasted a poster over it. The group was raising anti-India and pro-Khalistan slogans.
The Indian Embassy condemned the mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters.
"The statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza in front of the Embassy was defaced by Khalistani elements on 12 December 2020. The Embassy strongly condemns this mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon of peace and justice, it said in a statement.
The Embassy said it has lodged a strong protest with the US law enforcement agencies and has also taken up the matter with the Department of State for an early investigation and action against the culprits under the applicable law.
The Washington DC Police and Secret Services had a sizeable presence when all this happened Saturday afternoon.
Around half-an-hour later, another group of pro-Khalistani supporters hung a dummy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture with a rope around the neck of the statue.
After more than an hour, a secret service agent was seen coming near the statue and apparently telling the youths that they were violating the law by indulging in vandalism.
On June 26, President Donald Trump had signed an executive order, according to which an individual can be imprisoned for up to 10 years for destroying, damaging, vandalising, or desecrating a monument, memorial, or statue within the United States or otherwise vandalises government property.
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the presence of then US president Bill Clinton on September 16, 2000, after the US Congress passed a law in this regard in 1998.
This is for the second time that Gandhi's statue has been desecrated by miscreants. The first such incident was reported on the intervening night of June 2 and 3.
Farmers from different parts of the country, especially Haryana and Punjab, have been camping at various border points of Delhi for over two weeks to demand a repeal of the three farm laws. - PTI