WASHINGTON: Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Monday (local time) termed the desecration of the statue of
as "crime against humanity".
"Gandhi's statue is an iconic monument here. This is a federal piece of land, and this particular Park is controlled by
the National Park Police
. This was in fact, inaugurated in September 2000 by the then prime minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
and the then US President
," Sandhu told ANI.
"And ever since that time we have seen many people come and sit here. They pay their respects. On the night of the 2nd and perhaps early morning of 3rd, some unknown elements, committed this. This is a crime against humanity...," Sandhu told in an exclusive interview.
The statue is situated in a small park maintained by the National Park Service, near the Embassy of India. The statue was vandalized by some unknown individuals last week.
"...I think there is wide recognition of that. We immediately reported it to
the State Department
, the deputy secretary of state called me. Also, we have registered cases with the Metropolitan Police and the Park police, and they are investigating the matter," Sandhu said.
The Indian Ambassador informed that the US side has requested to be associated with restoration of the statue.
"As far as restoration is concerned, we received a request from the US side, that they would like to be associated with this, and it's been very scientifically carried out. An expert is coming over and it will be done so as to bring it back to the way it looked, and there is already work being done on that and I think in another week that should be completed," said the ambassador.
Asked about sentiment among US Congressmen, Senators, and people in the administration about India-US ties going forward, Sandhu said: "I have been speaking to a lot of policymakers on the think-tank side also, plus a lot of senators and Congressmen. There is certainly a very strong sentiment about India's tackling of the COVID crisis. Two aspects, particularly stand out there."
"One- they have taken note that the number of recoveries, almost 50 per cent in India are something which is very striking to them. Number two, they are also, noting that the number of deaths in India have been contained. That is one aspect which has brought about a lot of positivity here. Second is India's reliability on being a reliable supply partner," he said.
The Ambassador also recalled that India supplied medicines which were requested by the US side.
"You know that all the medicines which the United States requested us were supplied, and also the private parties here and that has left a very positive sentiment both in the US congress, amongst the policymakers as well as people at large. So, that is bringing about positivity for the future," he said.
"Already, there is a lot of interest in investment moving into India, and I think on that, both sides, especially the
are in touch with each other," he added.
The Ambassador further stated that the government in India has already announced a number of measures, which will attract "business into India, investments into India".
"I am sure that this is only the start, much more will come," said Sandhu.