Removal of “Repugnant” Gandhi Statue
Letter to Cerritos City Council Requests
Removal of “Repugnant” Gandhi Statue
Gandhi was “morally odious” and sexually abused his grandnieces,
claim South Asian Americans
Cerritos, CA, July 26, 2013 – A statue of Hindu religious icon Mohandas Gandhi has no place in a progressive society, claim a group of minorities of Indian origin in a letter to Cerritos City Council requesting permanent removal of a Gandhi statue. The statue, toppled by thieves in a botched robbery on April 16, has been warehoused for repairs.
Police speculate the bronze statue was targeted for its value as scrap metal, but some South Asian Americans believe that’s all it’s good for. “The Cerritos Gandhi statue is an offense to progressive human values of life, liberty, and equality,” said Bhajan Singh, Director of Organization for Minorities of India. “Why would any city idolize someone who abused his grandnieces sexually and his wife psychologically, sympathized with Hitler, and spread racial segregation in South Africa before Apartheid?”
On July 24, the group sent Cerritos City Council a 6-page letter citing conciliatory letters written by Gandhi to Hitler at the height of World War II, his campaigns to segregate black Africans from Indians while working as a lawyer in South Africa, and how he refused penicillin to his sick wife but took it himself six weeks after her death. The letter also claims Gandhi forced his two grandnieces, 17-year-old Manu and 18-year-old Abha, to share his bed naked, as infamously documented by biographer Jad Adams in his 2010 book, “Gandhi: Naked Ambition.”
“The Gandhi statue honors a man who sexually abused his grandnieces in a manner which would have resulted in his arrest and imprisonment for rape if done in Cerritos today,” said Arvin Valmuci, OFMI coordinator. “Yet perhaps most shocking is how Gandhi entrenched the divisive practice of caste in South Asian society. Caste is institutionalized social tyranny destructive to a civilization of diversity and equality, but Gandhi defended segregationist caste practices by fasting unto death to defeat civil rights movements promoting intercaste dining, drinking, marriage, and social mobility. So now millions of low-caste South Asians remain trapped in an ancient system of social slavery.”
Cerritos’ Gandhi statue was installed on April 4, 2012 as a donation by the Chugh Law Firm to the city’s “Art in Public Places” program. Located outside the firm, it was subject to approval by the Public Arts Committee and the City Council. Condemning the statue as propaganda used to whitewash human rights atrocities by the present Indian government, Bhajan Singh cited state funding for dozens of other statues around the world.
“India admits its Council for Cultural Relations funded at least 65 statues and busts between 2001 and 2010 alone,” said Singh. “Amazingly, statues of a racist rapist are used to conceal genocide. Because of his undeserved reputation as an icon of peace, Gandhi is used as a mask by a country whose security forces are a bandit gang writ large responsible for directly sponsoring multiple genocidal attacks on minority populations in the last 30 years. His legacy of spreading division behind an aura of peace is directly linked to the Indian state’s ongoing practice of impunity for injustice and awards for atrocities.”
Several North American cities have recently seen similar efforts for removal of Gandhi statues. In 2010, OFMI approached the San Francisco Arts Commission seeking removal of a statue outside the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. Installation of statues at Carleton University and McMaster University (both in Ontario) drew sustained opposition in 2011. After dozens of South Asian Americans from low-caste communities turned out in pouring rain to protest the October 2010 installation of a statue at University of Michigan – Flint, university officials responded by inviting Gandhi scholar G. B. Singh to present an alternative view in an on-campus lecture that December.
Gandhi is credited by the Indian government as a key figure in the region’s struggle for independence from the British Empire. The verbose activist’s collected writings were first published in 1960 in a 98-volume edition, the source of most claims made by OFMI. Volume I, for instance, features a transcribed speech where Gandhi apparently boasts about his efforts to racially segregate a post office in Durban, South Africa, stating:
“In the Durban Post and telegraph offices there were separate entrances for natives and Asiatics and Europeans. We felt the indignity too much and many respectable Indians were insulted and called all sorts of names by the clerks at the counter. We petitioned the authorities to do away with the invidious distinction and they have now provided three separate entrances for natives, Asiatics, and Europeans.”
Representatives from OFMI are seeking a meeting with Cerritos City Councilmembers. If the city refuses to hear their concerns, they pledge further action, though they are quick to emphasize their commitment to lawful measures. “Gandhi is in opposition to a peaceful society, which is our goal. Only peaceful solutions will persuade the public to reassess him as a villain.”
About OFMI: Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities of South Asian origin, particularly those marginalized by the Hindu caste system. OFMI encourages secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.