Gandhi's ashes stolen and photo scrawled with 'anti-national' in green paint on 150th birthday
Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were reportedly stolen from a memorial in India and his photograph defaced on his 150th birth anniversary, according to police. Reports state that the ashes were taken from a memorial in central India where they had been preserved since Gandhi's assassination in 1948.
The culprits also scrawled "anti-national" in green paint across pictures of the leader at Bapu Bhawan memorial in Rewa in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Although Gandhi was a devout Hindu, some Hindu hardliners believe that that the freedom fighter betrayed them by advocating for Hindu-Muslim unity. The iconic leader was assassinated by a Hindu extremist on January 1948. Authorities in Rewa confirmed the news to the BBC, saying that they were probing the theft on grounds of actions "prejudicial to national integration" and potential breach of peace. The caretaker of the memorial, Mangaldeep Tiwari, termed the theft "shameful."
"I opened the gate of the Bhawan early in the morning because it was Gandhi's birthday," he told Indian website The Wire. "When I returned at around 23:00 [17:30 GMT], I found the mortal remains of Gandhi missing and his poster was defaced."
Authorities reportedly took action after a complaint was filed by a local leader of the Congress political party, Gurmeet Singh. "This madness must stop. I urge Rewa police to check CCTV cameras installed inside Bapu Bhawan," Sing told the outlet.
Gandhi is renowned for leading a non-violent resistance movement against British colonial rule in India, and, in turn, inspiring people across the world to take the path of non-violence. A majority of Indians deem him the "father of the nation." However, his legacy has become contested in present day India, with many right wing nationalist considering him in low light for his alleged appeasement of Muslims.
After Gandhi's death, his body was cremated, however, all of his ashes were not scattered in a river in accordance with Hindu belief. Considering his influential history, some of the ashes were retained and sent across the country to various memorials, including Bapu Bhawan.