Police launch probe after Gandhi cut-out defaced in India
Police have launched a probe into a complaint that a cut-out of India's independence hero Mahatma Gandhi was defaced at a museum during his 150th birth anniversary celebrations this week, officials said on Friday.
Unidentified people had scrawled "traitor" in green paint across the cut-out at the Bapu Bhawan memorial in Rewa district in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
Organisers from the Indian National Congress party discovered the disfigurement when they gathered at the memorial for a commemorative event on 2 October, Gandhi's birth anniversary.
Partition of India: The way forward
On 15 August 1947, British India split into two nations – Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. The two countries continue to be hostile towards each other despite some efforts to improve bilateral ties. By Shamil Shams
Birth of two nations: in 1947, British India was divided into two countries – India and Pakistan. Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his All-India Muslim League party had first demanded autonomy for Muslim-majority areas in the undivided India and only later a separate country for Muslims. Jinnah believed that Hindus and Muslims could not continue to live together, as they were distinctly different "nations"
The line of blood: the partition of British India was extremely violent. Following the birth of India and Pakistan, violent communal riots began in many western areas, mostly in Punjab. Historians say that more than a million people died in clashes and millions more migrated from Indian territory to Pakistan and from the Pakistani side to India
The 1948 war: India and Pakistan clashed over Kashmir soon after their independence. The Muslim-majority Kashmir region was ruled by a Hindu leader, but Jinnah wanted it to be part of Pakistani territory. Indian and Pakistani troops fought in Kashmir in 1948, with India taking control of most part of the valley, while Pakistan occupied a smaller area. India and Pakistan continue to clash over Kashmir
Like U.S. and Canada? Liberal historians say that Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi wanted cordial ties between newly independent states. Jinnah, for instance, believed that ties between India and Pakistan should be similar to those between the US and Canada. But after his death in 1948, his successors followed a collision course with New Delhi
The 'other': Indian and Pakistani governments present very different accounts of partition. While India emphasises the Indian National Congress' freedom movement against British rulers – with Gandhi as its main architect – Pakistani textbooks focus on a "struggle" against both British and Hindu "oppression". State propaganda in both countries paints each other as an "enemy" that cannot be trusted
Worsening ties: diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan have remained acrimonious for the past seven decades. The issue of Islamist terrorism has marred relations in the last few years, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of backing Islamist jihadists to wage a war in India-administered Kashmir. India also blames Pakistan-based groups for launching terror attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad denies these claims
The way forward: many young people in both India and Pakistan are urging their governments to improve bilateral ties. Islamabad-based documentary filmmaker Wajahat Malik believes the best way for India and Pakistan to develop a closer relationship is through more interaction between their peoples. "Trade and tourism are the way forward for us. When people come together, the states will follow suit"
"We are investigating who defaced the portrait but we do not have any leads and no arrests have been made yet," district police chief Abid Khan said by phone. Police also refuted claims from the complainant, Gurmeet Singh Mangu, a Congress party leader, that an urn containing Gandhi's ashes was missing, citing memorial staff that they were never kept in the museum.
The police had lodged a criminal case on the grounds of actions "prejudicial to national integration" and a potential breach of public peace, Khan said.
No one claimed responsibility for the action.
Hindu hardliners are opposed to Gandhi's ideology, which they blame for India's 1947 partition, which created Pakistan.
Gandhi was cremated in New Delhi after he was shot dead by a Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse on 30 January, 1948.
His ashes were placed in several urns and sent across the country for immersion in various rivers. (dpa)