New York City: A statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside a temple in New York City has been destroyed by six men in a second attack on the memorial within two weeks.
In the latest incident, the life-sized Gandhi statue, standing outside the Tulsi Mandir in South Richmond Hill, was smashed to pieces using a sledgehammer at about 1:30 am on Tuesday, local police said as quoted by The New York Post. The suspects also spray-painted "kutta," (dog in Hindi), "Grandpi" and "Dog" on the road outside the 111th Street temple, cops said.
"To know that Gandhi represents peace and somebody would come and just target the statue and vandalize it, it's very sad," the temple's founder, Pandit Maharaj said.
On August 3, the same statue had been knocked over, prompting community outrage and press conferences against the hate crimes across the country, New York Post reported.
According to the police, the suspects in Tuesday morning's incident fled from the scene in two cars, a white Mercedes Benz and a darker car, possibly a Toyota Camry that is possibly used as a livery cab.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the vandalism at the Tulsi Mandir last night. This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it must stop. We must work together to send a clear message that hate crimes towards any religion will not be tolerated," the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol tweeted.
It further said, "As usual, COPCP volunteers were out last night, patrolling the community and keeping an eye out. We increased our presence at Tulsi Mandir and were happy to see the 106 Precinct there as well. A big thank you to our four volunteers who were out for 7 hours overnight."
"Hindu hate is on the rise," the area's Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar said adding that donors have offered to pay for a replacement. "It's outrageous. Gandhi is a symbol of peace all around the world."
In a statement, the Assembly member-- the first Hindu-American elected official in New York State -- called for the perpetrators to be "apprehended swiftly, charged, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
"We always knew that defeating hate would not be accomplished in one day, one week, or even one year. We are committed to this fight for the long term, and will use the Hindu principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (soul force) that guided Gandhi himself and later the great American civil rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr."
The New York Police Department's Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the August 16 incident and has been notified of the August 3 vandalism, according to New York Post.