The statue — a gift from the Indian government — was unveiled by Mr Morrison at the Australian Indian Community Centre in Rowville on Friday in the presence of Consul General Raj Kumar and other Australian leaders as part of India’s celebration of 75 years of Independence.
The Victoria police said an unknown number of offenders used a power tool to decapitate the statue sometime between 5.30pm on Friday and 5.30pm on Saturday, reported ABC News.
The incident is being investigated by the Knox Crime Investigation Unit detectives. Police have also invited witnesses to come forward and report any information that may have.
Mr Morrison has condemned the incident. “It is disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect,” he said in a statement on Sunday, reported The Age. “Whoever is responsible for this has shown great disrespect to the Australian Indian community and should be ashamed.”
Australia India Community Charitable Trust chair Vasan Srinivasan said that while he was saddened by the incident, he did not believe that it was motivated by racism.
“Of course it is not appropriate for someone to do this, but we can fix the Gandhi statue. He [The person behind it] needs some support to make sure he gets well,” said Mr Srinivasan.
He added that he did not expect such an incident in Victoria, which has an Indian population of about 3,00,000.
The incident has shocked the Indian Australian community. Surya Prakash Soni, president of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, said that the Rowville building was the first Indian community centre established after 30 years of effort.
“The community is very shocked and sad. I don’t [understand] why anyone would do such a low act of vandalism,” Mr Soni said.
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