- The statue, located outside the Shri Tulsi Mandir in the South Richmond Hill neighborhood of the borough, was first damaged on Aug. 3, 2022, and two weeks later, on Aug. 16, it was toppled and smashed with a sledgehammer and spray painted.
New York State Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar and New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently unveiled a new Mahatma Gandhi statue outside a temple in Queens, New York, to replace the one that was vandalized in a hate crime in August 2022. The statue, located outside the Shri Tulsi Mandir in the South Richmond Hill neighborhood of the borough, was vandalized not once but twice. It was first damaged on Aug. 3, 2022, and two weeks later, on Aug. 16, it was toppled and smashed with a sledgehammer, Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, founder of the temple told American Kahani at the time This time the vandals also spray-painted the word “kutta” on the statue.
A month later, Sukhpal Singh, 27, was arrested on charges of criminal mischief as a hate crime. He was allegedly part of a group of about five people who smashed the statue and vandalized the temple, according to a press release from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Rajkumar, who according to QNS, played “a pivotal role in having the August incident investigated as an anti-Hindu hate crime,” led the Jan. 21 ceremony outside the temple. “Hate against Hindu Americans will not be tolerated in my district, in Queens or anywhere in New York City,” the QNS report quoted her as saying. “Together we showed the world that we are proud Hindu-Americans, we fight hate with love and unity,” she added, highlighting “the community’s commitment to Gandhi’s principles of love, unity, non-violence, and peace,” the report added.
Adams spoke about Gandhi’s enduring spirit and “the community’s responsibility to continue his legacy of peace and humanity,” QNS said. He also shared visit to the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram in India. “The bullet can take away the physical presence, but it cannot destroy the anatomy of the spirit.”
Assembly Member David Weprin, Council Member Lynn Schulman, and Pandit Lakhram Maharaj, founder of the temple also spoke.