A second statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised in Sri Lanka, this time in the Army-controlled Northern Province headquarter town of Jaffna.
The incident happened past midnight on Saturday, and two persons were taken into custody on suspicion a day later, officials said.
The statue was unveiled by the Indian Consul General in Jaffna, V.Mahalingam on Martyrs Day in January, 2011. “The statue is a reinforced concrete structure. It cannot be vandalised easily,” Mr.Mahalingam said, when asked about the incident. He has sent reports of the incident to the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Ashok K.Kantha, and also met the Government Agent for Jaffna, along with the Mayor, to lodge a complaint.
The Indian High Commissioner spoke to the Foreign Secretary on the desecration and urged him to take immediate action to restore the statue and bring the culprits to book.
It appears that the statue has been pulled by the hand with a mechanical device using force. The statue is bent at its feet, and the arm holding the ‘dhandi’ has been damaged.
The most intriguing aspect of the whole episode is that the Army watches the whole Province with hawk eyes. There is huge presence of military on the ground, and it is baffling that such an incident of vandalism – which takes sometime to accomplish – was not detected by the Army.
A few months ago, a statue of Gandhi was ‘beheaded’ in the Eastern Province town of Batticaloa. Though the government reacted quickly and restored the statue, the police are yet to nail the suspects.
In an unrelated but significant development, Sri Lankan Editors who met President Mahinda Rajapaksa, over breakfast on Monday morning, reportedly asked him what he was doing about the “huge Indian interference” in the country. “India was trying to destabilise Sri Lanka, and the President should tell India not to do so”, they advised him.