While Gandhi was cremated in New Delhi, his ashes were divided and distributed across India. (Supplied: Immigration Museum)
Thieves have stolen some of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes and defaced a portrait of the social activist and pro-independence leader on what would have been his 150th birthday, Indian police say.
- The ashes had been kept at the memorial in central India since 1948
- The thieves wrote “traitor” across photographs of the independence leader
- While many Indians revere Gandhi, some Hindu hardliners view him as a traitor for his advocacy of Hindu-Muslim unity
An urn containing the ashes was taken from a memorial in central India, where they had been kept since 1948 — the year of Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu extremist.
The thieves also scrawled “traitor” in green paint across photographs of the independence leader at the Bapu Bhawan shrine in Rewa, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
While many Indians revere Gandhi as the “father of the nation”, some Hindu hardliners view Gandhi as a traitor for his advocacy of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Some Hindu extremists praise his murderer and accuse Gandhi of betraying Hindus by, in their view, appeasing Muslims.
While Gandhi was cremated in New Delhi, his ashes were divided and distributed across India.
Congress district president Gurmeet Singh and other party members reported the theft after noticing the urn was missing when they visited the shrine on Wednesday morning.
Mr Singh urged the police to check the CCTV cameras installed inside the temple.
“This madness must stop,” Mr Singh told Indian news site The Wire.
Police in Rewa are investigating the theft, according to the BBC.
Bapu Bhawan caretaker Mangaldeep Tiwari told The Wire the theft was “shameful”.
“I opened the gate of the bhawan [large building] early in the morning because it was Gandhi’s birthday. When I returned at around 11:00pm, I found the mortal remains of Gandhi missing and his poster was defaced,” he said.