A statue of Mahatma Gandhi at a Hindu temple was defaced in Canada’s Ontario city on Wednesday, CBS News reported.

The statue is located in the premises of the Vishnu Mandir in the city’s Richmond Hill area. The police received a call about the incident at around 12.30 pm on Wednesday.

Amy Boudreau, a spokesperson for the York Regional Police, said that unidentified persons had defaced the statue by writing the words “rapist” and “Khalistan” on it. The police said that they are considering the incident as one motivated by hate and bias.

“The York Regional Police does not tolerate hate crime in any form,” Boudreau said, according to CBS News. “Those who victimise others based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression and the like will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The chairperson of the temple, Budhendra Dubey, said that the statue has been at the location for over 30 years and had never been vandalised before. “We live so peacefully in Richmond Hill here for so many years and nothing, nothing, nothing has ever happened like this,” he added. “If we can live the way that Gandhi taught us to live, then we will not cause hurt to anyone or any community.”

The High Commission of India described the incident as a hate crime that seeks to terrorise the Indian community and said that it was deeply anguished by it.

“It has led to increased concern and insecurity in the Indian community here,” the commission said. “We have approached the Canadian government to investigate and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice swiftly.”

Statues of Gandhi outside India have been targeted on at least three previous occasions in the past two years in London, Washington and California’s Davis city. In the most recent such incident in Davis, a Gandhi statue was found toppled in January 2021.

The United States had said that the incident was unacceptable and promised to take swift action against the perpetrators.