A life-size bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised in Melbourne, hours after it was unveiled by Scott Morrison, inviting sharp criticism from the Australian prime minister.
“It is disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect,” Morrison was quoted as saying in the report on Sunday.
He said that attacks on cultural monuments would not be tolerated in a country which is the most successful multicultural and immigration nation in the world.
“Whoever is responsible for this has shown great disrespect to the Australian Indian community and should be ashamed,” he said.
The statue — a gift from the Indian government — was unveiled by Mr Morrison at the Australian Indian Community Centre in Rowville on Friday in the presence of Consul General Raj Kumar and other Australian leaders as part of India’s celebration of 75 years of Independence.
Victoria police said an unknown number of miscreants used a power tool to vandalise the statue sometime between 5.30pm on Friday and 5.30pm on Saturday, as per ABC News.
The police informed that the Knox Crime Investigation Unit detectives were investigating the issue and are appealing for witnesses to come forward with information.
The Indian community in Melbourne expressed their shock over the incident, calling it a “low act.”
“The community is very shocked and sad. I don’t (understand) why anyone would do such a low act of vandalism,” President of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, Surya Prakash Soni was quoted as saying in the ABC report.
This is the second time this year that a statue of Gandhi has been vandalised abroad. In January, a statue of the leader in the United States’ city of Davis was found toppled. Half of the statue’s face was missing and it seemed to have been sawed off at the ankles.
The Ministry of External Affairs had also condemned the incident, calling it a malicious act against an icon of peace.
(With inputs from agencies)