âIt really saddens me that someone vandalizes the statue within 24 hours of unveiling. They were trying to cut off the head by grinding around it, âSrinivasan said.
Source: Provided / SBS News
The statue was donated by the Indian government and was unveiled by Mr. Morrison on Friday.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, Deputy Minister of Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood, Victorian Opposition Leader Mathew Guy and Indian Consulate General Raj Kumar were also present on the occasion.
Mr Morrison condemned the act on Sunday.
“I am devastated to learn that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Australia Indian Community Center in Rowville, Victoria, was vandalized after its unveiling on Friday,” he told SBS News.
âAustralia is the most successful multicultural and immigrant nation in the world and attacks on cultural monuments will not be tolerated.
“It is shameful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect. Anyone responsible for it has shown great disrespect to the Australian-Indian community and should be ashamed of themselves.”
A forerunner of the Indian nonviolent movement, Mahatma Gandhi is widely regarded as the leader who guided the country towards independence from British rule in 1947.
âNext year is the 75th [anniversary] independence of India, âSrinivasan said.
âThere are almost 300,000 Indians living in the state of Victoria. I didn’t expect this thing to happen to Victoria.
The vandalized statue was inspected by local police on Saturday evening.
“But they couldn’t get fingerprints because it was raining heavily throughout the day,” Srinivasan said.
CCTV images of the site are being reviewed.
Members of Australia’s Indian community voiced their grief on Sunday.
“I am absolutely appalled to hear this shocking news,” Rajni Luthra, editor of Sydney-based Indian Link newspaper, told SBS News.
âFor an apostle of peace, facing such an act of violence is beyond words. “
âAt this particular point, when the world is so highly polarized, we need to familiarize ourselves once again with Gandhi’s philosophy, especially his ideas of civil disobedience and debate.
âEvery major city in the world has a statue of Gandhi. That this is happening in Melbourne, home to Australia’s largest Indian community, is particularly appalling, âsaid Luthra.
Victoria Federation of Indian Associations president Surya Prakash Soni called the incident a “low act”.
“It is truly shocking to the community that someone is doing such a base act by vandalizing a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, which is a symbol of peace and non-violence,” he told SBS News.
“He is not just a leader of India, he is a world leader, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself quoted. [at the] unveiling event Friday.
âIt’s really shocking. Why would someone do such an act in the first place? “
Indian Consulate General Raj Kumar also condemned the act.
âWhen I saw the photos I was really shocked,â he told SBS News.
âI couldn’t believe this could happen here in Australia. And this also to Mahatma Gandhi, who is an apostle of peace.
âWe really condemn this. It shouldn’t have happened. The one who made [this, theyâre] not of a healthy mind. This is what we feel.
âWe contacted the police. We have contacted all local bodies to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. “
Victoria Police have been contacted for comment.