Six males sledge hammered and spray painted a beloved Gandhi statue outdoors a Hindu temple in Queens — the second assault in lower than two weeks, police and temple officers mentioned Thursday.
The newest vandalization — the primary was early Aug. 3 — occurred Tuesday round 1:30 p.m., when six miscreants went after the statue in entrance of Tulsi Mandir on 111th St. close to 103rd Ave. in Richmond Hill, police mentioned. The incident is being investigated as a attainable hate crime, police mentioned Thursday.
In photographs of the aftermath posted by the Ozone Park Civilian Patrol, the phrases “Canine” may be seen spray painted subsequent to the shattered statue.
“It’s very painful,” mentioned temple priest Lakhram Maharaj, the founder and head of Tulsi Mandir.
The concrete statue of Mahatma Gandhi stood outdoors the temple for seven years and was created by an artist from Guyana that the congregation paid $3,000 to fly in.
“Mahatma Gandhi represents peace,” mentioned Maharaj. “He means lots to us as a result of he struggle for the independence of India.”
Surveillance footage obtained by the Every day Information exhibits the vandals taking turns whacking the upright statue with a sledgehammer till it crashes face-first onto the pavement. One vandal proceeds to leap on the torso of the overturned statue, earlier than they take turns whacking away at it with their hammer.
“They had been saying that Gandhi is a canine.” Maharaj mentioned.
He says the audio on the surveillance footage recorded the folks answerable for the primary vandalization talking Spanish, and people concerned in Tuesday’s vandalization talking Hindi.
“I wish to know why they did it. I don’t imagine that they need to go to jail for it. However I wish to know why,” mentioned Maharaj. “That statue was there. It didn’t harm no one. We’re not hurting anyone. Why are you coming after us?”
Maharaj — often known as a pandit — mentioned a few of his members are actually afraid to come back to the temple and fear that somebody may come to the temple with a gun.
“Because the founder and the priest of the temple I can’t present the congregation that I’m frightened as a result of if I present them that I’m worrying and I’m not robust, how they are going to be robust?” Maharaj mentioned.
Didi Mahabir, 47, who has frequented Tulsi Mandir a number of instances, famous the vandalization got here sooner or later after the seventy fifth anniversary of India’s independence, a democratic journey led by Gandhi’s message of non-violence.
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“I imagine this was performed out of pure hate in direction of all the things that Mahatma Gandhi stood for and towards our Hindu neighborhood,” Mahabir mentioned.
Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the primary Hindu-American elected to workplace within the state, organized a press convention with different lawmakers final week to deal with the Aug. 3 assault. On Thursday she mentioned, “It’s a part of a disturbing development.”
Rajkumar famous the Gandhi statue in Union Sq. was additionally vandalized up to now 12 months.
“Gandhi’s philosophy was based mostly on Hindu ideas,” mentioned Rajkumar. “We would like all of New York and the entire U.S. to know the inclusivity and love that underpins our religion.”
The six males, who cops described to be about 25 to 30 years outdated, fled towards Liberty Ave. They then cut up up and received right into a white Mercedes-Benz and one other darkish coloured automotive with attainable taxi stickers on the again passenger window.
There have been no arrests. Video launched by the NYPD Thursday exhibits the group of males strolling down the road after the hateful act.
Anybody with data in regard to this incident is requested to name the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).
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