Indian diaspora groups have come together to launch a fightback against attempts to try and remove a statue of Mahatma Gandhi from the Golden Mile in Leicester.
The Save the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester petition on Change.org attracted over 5,000 signatures within days of its launch with a rallying call to counter a rival campaign calling for the statue's removal.
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Leicester should never be removed as it resembles independence, non-violence and peace, reads the petition.
He was the leader of change, inspiring people all over the world, including civil rights leaders (like) Martin Luther King. And, removing his statue is like asking people to remove their humanity from their souls, it adds.
The petition follows other grassroots campaigns in the city, including a silent socially-distanced Saving Gandhi? protest near the statue during which local councillors and former Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz formed a cordon of white ribbons around the monument as a sign of peace.
Absolute madness to have to fight to keep the statue, says Hema Solanki, in her support for the campaign.
?What has Gandhiji done to hurt anyone? I would have thought people would cherish having a great tolerant person around them, notes Tattamangalam Krishnan's message.
Gandhiji was a man of equality and justice who fought for freedom and unity, adds Baloo Amin.
India Inc. Founder & CEO Manoj Ladwa said it was heartening to see the Indian diaspora uniting to defend the true ideals of the leader of the Indian freedom struggle.
?Mahatma Gandhi's principles of non-violent and peaceful civil disobedience are even more relevant as the anti-racism fight reverberates around the world. Just as he inspired the world's anti-apartheid leaders, Gandhi has much to offer modern-day struggles. Let's do all we can to make sure his true ideals are heard loud and clear, he said.
The campaign to save the statue is gathering momentum at a crucial point, just as most local councils across the UK are undertaking individual reviews of their local landmarks to ensure they are reflective of a tolerant society, revisiting Britain's slave trading and colonial history. The re-evaluation, which comes in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, follows the very dramatic removal of former slave trader Edward Colston's statue in the city of Bristol.
Leicester City Council has said that all representations will be considered as it analyses the city's statues, street and building names, with a rival petition calling for the removal of the Gandhi statue among those being submitted for consideration.
"In such a culturally-diverse city as Leicester, it's important that we respect the histories of all our communities and understand the context for the historical references that are part of our streetscape and built environment," a council spokesperson said.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a similar review, with the Gandhi statue in Parliament Square still under cover after it was boarded up ahead of protests last weekend following some graffiti left behind on the square during previous protests. The Mayor's office, Greater London Authority (GLA) said the covering on the Gandhi statue and a few others on Parliament Square remain under review by the GLA City Operations Unit.
British Indian economist and peer Lord Meghnad Desai had branded it a pity and a shame? that the Gandhi'statue in the square had to be covered up.
Gandhi has nothing to hide He is a pioneer of the struggle against imperialism and racism, who inspired Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, he said.
by Nadia Hatink