Washington, Jan 30: Unknown miscreants have vandalised, broken and ripped from the base a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in a park in the US state of California, evoking a strong response from India which sought a thorough investigation and appropriate action against those responsible for the “despicable act.”

The 6-ft tall, 650-pound (294 kg) bronze statue of Gandhi, in the Central Park of the City of Davis in Northern California, appeared to have been sawed off at the ankles and half its face was severed and missing, local Davis Enterprise daily reported.

The vandalised statue of Mahatma Gandhi was found by a park employee in the early hours of morning of January 27, the police said.

The statue is being removed and will be stored in a safe place until it can be evaluated, said Davis City councilman Lucas Frerichs.

Investigators are still unsure of when exactly the statue was torn down or what the motive may have been, The Sacramento Bee reported.

“Seeing as it’s a cultural icon to a portion of the people in Davis, we are taking it very seriously,” Deputy Chief Paul Doroshov of the Davis Police Department was quoted as saying by the daily.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs said the US Department of State has conveyed that the act of vandalism is unacceptable and expressed the hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice as quickly as possible.

“The government of India strongly condemns this malicious and despicable act against a universally-respected icon of peace and justice,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

It said the Indian embassy in Washington has taken up the matter with the US Department of State for a thorough investigation into the incident and appropriate action against those responsible for it.

The MEA said the Mayor of Davis has deeply regretted the incident and informed them that they have initiated an investigation.

“Local Indian community organisations have condemned the act of vandalism,” the ministry said. – PTI