“It really saddens me that someone would vandalise the statue within 24 hours of its unveiling. They were trying to cut the head off by grinding around it,” Mr Srinivasan said.
Source: Supplied/SBS News
The statue was donated by the government of India and was unveiled by Mr Morrison on Friday.
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood, Victorian Opposition Leader Mathew Guy and consulate general of India Raj Kumar were also present on the occasion.
Mr Morrison condemned the act on Sunday.
“I am devastated to hear that the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Australia Indian Community Centre in Rowville, Victoria, has been vandalised after it was unveiled on Friday,” he told SBS News.
“Australia is the most successful multicultural and immigration nation in the world and attacks on cultural monuments will not be tolerated.
“It is disgraceful and extremely disappointing to see this level of disrespect. Whoever is responsible for this has shown great disrespect to the Australian-Indian community and should be ashamed.”
The harbinger of India’s non-violent movement, Mahatma Gandhi is widely believed to be the leader who guided the country towards independence from British rule in 1947.
“Next year is the 75th [anniversary] of India’s independence,” Mr Srinivasan said.
“There are almost 300,000 Indians living in the state of Victoria. I never expected this thing could happen in Victoria.”
The vandalised statue was inspected by the local police on Saturday evening.
“But they couldn’t get any fingerprints because it was heavily raining throughout the day,” Mr Srinivasan said.
CCTV footage of the site is being looked at.
Members of Australia’s Indian community expressed their hurt on Sunday.
“I am absolutely appalled to hear this shocking piece of news,” Sydney-based editor of Indian Link newspaper Rajni Luthra told SBS News.
“For an apostle of peace to face such an act of violence is beyond words.”
“At this particular juncture, when the world is so strongly polarised, we need to reacquaint ourselves with Gandhi’s philosophy, especially his ideas of disobeying in a civil manner and allowing debate.
“Every major city in the world has a statue of Gandhi. For this to happen in Melbourne, which is home to Australia’s largest Indian community, is particularly dismaying,” Ms Luthra said.
President of the Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria, Surya Prakash Soni, described the incident as a “low act”.
“This is really shocking for the community that someone would do such a low act of vandalising a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, who is a symbol of peace and non-violence,” he told SBS News.
“He’s not only a leader of India, he’s a global leader, as quoted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself [at the] unveiling event on Friday.
“This is really shocking. Why would anyone do such an act in the first place?”
Consulate general of India Raj Kumar has also condemned the act.
“When I saw the pictures I was really shocked,” he told SBS News.
“I could not believe that this could happen here in Australia. And that too to Mahatma Gandhi, who’s an apostle of peace.
“We really condemn this. This should not have happened. Whoever has done [this, they’re] not of a sound mind. That’s what we feel.
“We have contacted the police. We have contacted all the local bodies to investigate it and bring the perpetrators to the law.”
Victoria Police has been contacted for comment.