A landmark statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the UK has been vandalised in the city of Leicester apparently in protest against the 1984 Operation Blue Star military raid on the Golden Temple.
Graffiti saying ‘Never forget 84’ and ‘We want justice #84’ were sprayed on the base of the statue in Leicester’s famous Golden Mile of Indian-origin restaurants and shops.
It is believed that the messages are in reference to Operation Blue Star in June, 1984, when the Golden Temple in Amritsar was raided by the Indian Army to flush out Sikh extremists holed up inside.
Police are investigating the case after the vandalism was reported on Saturday. Sikhs from Leicester and around the UK on Sunday marched through London to mark the 30th anniversary of the siege.
Reacting to the incident, Leicester East MP Keith Vaz said damaging the Gandhi statue was ‘foolish’.
“To think that somebody has felt it necessary, either an individual or a group of people, to vandalise in this foolish and idiotic way, such an important part of the heritage of India, as well as the heritage of Leicester, I think is a disgrace,” he said.
Operation Blue Star saw a reported 400 people killed, including 87 soldiers yet Sikh groups have argued that the figure is a misrepresentation and that thousands actually died in the conflict.
Just over four months after the attack, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who gave the go ahead for the attack, was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge. Despite similar names, Mahatma Gandhi was not in any way related to the assassinated former leader.
Leicester City Council workers removed graffiti from the plinth of the bronze monument the following day.
Leicestershire Police is treating the incident as criminal damage and has appealed for anyone with information about the incident to contact them.