As the world celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2 October, an urn containing his ashes went missing from the city of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh state.
The thieves also wrote “Rashtra Drohi” (traitor) on the pictures of Gandhi that were placed on a hoarding-like structure inside a museum named “Bapu Bhawan”.
The word “Bapu” – that is fondly used to address Gandhi, translates to the word “father” in Hindi language.
Outraged by the incident, netizens took to social networking platforms to express their anger.
What a homage to the Father of the Nation. Thank God, #MahatmaGandhi didn’t live to see this day— Suchetana Ray (@suchetanaray) October 4, 2019
@RahulGandhi@PMOIndia@ArvindKejriwal@ravishndtv@MamataOfficial@asadowaisi— Zabihullah Qasmi (@qzabihullah) October 4, 2019
Remains of Mahatma Gandhi stolen, photo defaced and written perpetrator. What else we wait for? Let's stand up together against saffron terror, to save India from being ashes.https://t.co/cYmUal2uIm
Someone stole the funeral ashes of Mahatma Gandhi from Gandhi Bhawan in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. They also defacted his photo by spraying the word "TRAITOR". Where are we going ?— Avinash kumar (@avinashkmr692) October 3, 2019
Shocked to hear that some one stole the funeral ashes of Mahatma Gandhi kept in a shrine at Gandhi Bhavan in Rewa and defaced his photo. How shameful. Sangh has groomed an army of morons who don't think, have no capacity to analyse their actions. Strongly condemn. @the_hindu— Shabnam Hashmi (@ShabnamHashmi) October 3, 2019
WHAT A SHAME FOR THE NATION. #BREAKING: #MahatmaGandhi’s ashes stolen and photo defaced on #GandhiAt150 birthday.— Parthiban Shanmugam (@hollywoodcurry) October 3, 2019
The thieves are believed to have also scrawled “TRAITOR” across Gandhi’s Photograph at the Bapu Bhawan memorial, Rewa, in Madhya Pradesh, India. pic.twitter.com/0z1N8UZCdQ
SHAMEFUL act amidst @Mahatma150 theft of ashes in Rewa https://t.co/opeyXFcc1Q hopefully this will be uniformly condemned & such vandalism rejected. This theft & scrawling of word 'traitor' on Bapu's photos points to deep hatred in certain clusters against what he stood for— C Uday Bhaskar (@theUdayB) October 3, 2019
What do you say to this ? A portrait of Mahatma Gandhi was defaced at Bapu Bhawan in Laxmanbagh Sansthan on Gandhi Jayanti by unidentified persons who wrote "deshdrohi" (traitor) over it and also stole an urn which was used for immersing his ashes https://t.co/jfVTQSFS7o— vandna (@vandnadhand) October 4, 2019
Officials of Bapu Bhawan described the theft and disfigurement of the image as "shameful".
According to media reports, a case has been registered under Sections against the unidentified people under the relevant law.
As of now, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at a memorial located in Ahmedabad city in Gujarat, has not commented on the incident.
Gandhi led India’s freedom struggle by theorizing and implementing the practice of "non-violence”.
Even though he is revered by many Indians, some groups of Hindu ultranationalists criticize his position as "yielding" to Muslims and agreeing to the division of the country into India and Pakistan in 1947.
In 1948, Mahatma was assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a hardcore Hindu activist.
After Gandhi's assassination, his remains were cremated according to Hindu tradition, but the ashes of his remains were divided and transported to various memorials, including the one desecrated in Madhya Pradesh.