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A life-sized bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Australian city of Melbourne was vandalised on Saturday, SBS News reported.
The statue, located at the Australian Indian Community Centre in the city’s southeastern suburb of Rowville, had been unveiled just a day earlier by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It had been donated by the Government of India.
Victoria Police said that an unknown number of people used a power tool to damage the statue. according to Australian newspaper The Age.
Morrison said on Sunday that he was devastated to hear about the incident.
“Australia is the most successful multicultural and immigration nation in the world and attacks on cultural monuments will not be tolerated,” he said, according to SBS News. “It is disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect. Whoever is responsible for this has shown great disrespect to the Australian-Indian community and should be ashamed.”
Surya Prakash Soni, the president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, described the vandalisaton as shocking, and said that Gandhi is a symbol of peace and non-violence.
“We wouldn’t expect such odd behaviour from anyone in the Victorian community, so this has come as a surprise,” Soni said, according to The Age.
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 condemned the incident, calling it a malicious act against an icon of peace.