NEW DELHI — The remains of Indian independence icon Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly called Mahatma Gandhi, were stolen from a memorial in India on his 150th birthday, the British Broadcasting Corporation, citing local police, reported on Thursday.
The ashes were taken from a Madhya Pradesh museum, where they had been kept since 1948 – the year of Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu extremist.
The word ‘traitor’ was also scrawled over the poster of India’s founder in green paint on his birth anniversary, according to BBC. The caretaker of the Gandhi memorial, Mangaldeep Tiwari, called the incidents ‘shameful’.
Some Hindu hardliners view Gandhi as a traitor for his advocacy of Hindu-Muslim unity. This is despite Gandhi being a devout Hindu himself.
According to The Telegraph report the theft was reported by a Congress leader in Bapu Bhawan in Rewa district.
An FIR lodged by the Rewa district’s Congress chief Gurmeet Singh said that when he and some Congress workers went to Bapu Bhawan to offer tributes, the urn was missing and the word “rashtra drohi (traitor)” was written over his photo.
Rewa superintendent of police Abid Khan, however, said the urn didn’t have any mortal remains of the Mahatma.
“The ashes were not stolen. We were told that the urn was used to take his ashes and the empty urn is now missing. That’s all,” Khan said. “The Trust (Lakshman Bagh Trust which maintains the museum) should know about what was kept there. We’re not inquiring into that matter,” Khan said, according to report.
Khan said the police were investigating who defaced Gandhi’s photograph.
Though Gandhiji was cremated in New Delhi, his ashes were scooped into several urns and sent across the country for immersion in various rivers.