• 06 Oct, 2022

Attack on Gandhi Statue raises Concern among Richmond Hill Indians

Attack on Gandhi Statue raises Concern among Richmond Hill Indians

Attack on Gandhi Statue raises Concern among Richmond Hill Indians

The attack on Gandhi statue in the heart of Little Guyana, Queens, has hurt the sentiments of Indian Guyanese and Trini New Yorkers and others. The attack took place in Little Guyana, the heart of the Indo-Guyanese community in New York. It has ignited outrage and condemnation from Guyanese, non-Guyanese, politicians and community leaders. It has also resulted in trauma among some Guyanese who express concern that such an act can happen in their peaceful community and to such a towering figure. They worry whether violence can also rain on them. They hope it is an isolated incident.      

   
Gandhi is considered as an apostle of peace worldwide and highly regarded by Indo Caribbean people who along with Punjabis have a dominant presence in the community.   
     
The New York based Guyana Democracy Project (GDP) issued a statement strongly condemning the destruction of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Little Guyana, Richmond Hill , Queens in front of the Indo-Caribbean Tulsi Mandir on 111th Street, at the corner of Liberty Avenue. The mandir is patronized mostly by Trinis and Guyanese.     
This is the latest in a series of attacks on Gandhi statue in the US. Last February a bronze six foot statue of Gandhi was destroyed at Union Park, Manhattan. Other statues were destroyed in Washington DC and California as well as in several countries in Africa.   
    
The Little Guyana based Gandhi statue was broken and tossed to the ground on the evening of August 3 by three unknown assailants who are yet to be apprehended. The New York mainstream media carried reports of the attacks. The statue of Gandhi, which was donated to the mandir, was installed some years ago. It will cost over $3000 to be replaced.     
      
Gandhi fought injustice through non-violence although violence was rained on him by Europeans in South Africa and British India. He was also considered as the foremost fighter for independence for colonies. His struggle led to independence not just for India but colonies around the globe in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean.     
The GDP notes that “Gandhi was an iconic figure globally revered for just and noble causes. He was a champion of peaceful protests. No statue or memorial should be desecrated and most certainly not one of Gandhi who fought for the values that the US represents like democracy, freedom of religion, and justice. Peaceful and non-violent protest, championed by American civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a hallmark of American democracy. An attack on Gandhi is not just an attack on him but what he stood for (non-violence, justice, and equality) and also on India and the Indian diaspora (Indo-Caribbeans included”.      
Dr Tara Singh, President of NY GDP, said, “vandalising and desecrating Gandhi’s statue are unacceptable in America, a nation that prides itself in diversity and in respecting various faiths and cultural practices. Americans are inspired by Gandhi’s message of peace and equality.  It was a malicious and despicable act that must be condemned by all”.      
The Indian American community, the public, and the mandir leader, Pandit Lakhram Maraj of Canje, expressed hope that the perpetrators of this horrible and despicable act will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Some community leaders have called on the city to replace the statue that pays homage to Gandhi-ji.     
The city has promised a thorough investigation and full accountability for those who committed this crime.    

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr. Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a holder of multiple degrees in the natural sciences, social sciences, and education. He taught for over forty years in the US. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling globally to research and write about Indian communities.