Leicester

Golden Temple attack: Gandhi statue in Leicester vandalised

Gandhi statue on 7 June 2014
Image caption The vandalism was reported to police on Saturday

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been vandalised with graffiti appearing to refer to the 1984 Golden Temple attack in India.

"Never forget 84" and "We want justice #84" have been sprayed on the base of the statue in Leicester's Golden Mile.

Police are investigating after the vandalism was discovered on Saturday.

Sikhs from Leicester and around the UK are marching through London to mark the 30th anniversary of the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian army.

They are also using the event to protest about what they claim was India's failure to prevent the killing of thousands of Sikhs in rioting later in 1984.

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.

The storming of the Golden Temple, codenamed Operation Blue Star, was aimed at flushing out Sikh separatists who had been been demanding an independent homeland - called Khalistan - in the Punjab.

According to the Indian government, about 400 people were killed, including 87 soldiers - but Sikh groups dispute this figure, saying thousands died.

Image caption The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in 2009

Operation Blue Star led to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her Sikh bodyguards in revenge.

Despite her name, Indira Gandhi was not related to the assassinated independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi, who promoted non-violent civil disobedience.

Leicestershire Police said the graffiti was due to be removed from the Mahatma Gandhi statue on Sunday, and appealed for anyone with information about how it got there to contact them.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, was not related to Mahatma Gandhi

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