An eight-foot tall statue of Mahatma Gandhi was found desecrated in Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district on Sunday morning, reported PTI. “The statue at Kumhartoli locality has been damaged [on] the night of February 8,” said Hazaribagh Deputy Commissioner Bhuvanesh Pratap Singh. “A new statue will be erected there soon.”

The police are investigating the incident, and a first information report has been filed against unidentified people. “We visited the place on Sunday and began our investigation,” Hazaribagh’s Katkamdag police station incharge Gautam Kumar told Hindustan Times. “Prima facie, it seems the statue was damaged by unsocial elements. However, anything concrete can only be said after the investigation gets completed.”

The statue had been installed in an enclosure named Gandhi Smarak on the banks of the Gonda river. Gandhi’s ashes had been immersed in various places across the country, and Gonda river was one of them, reported The Telegraph. This is the second time in the last 15 years that the statue has been damaged – the first was in 2005.

President of Mahatma Gandhi Smarak Vikash Nyas Manoj Verma claimed that the incident took place on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. He added that the lock of one of the three gates was also found broken. “First two gates are locked, while the lock of the third gate was broken,” he said.

Verma said he suspected the involvement of land mafias. To buttress his claim, Verma said some unidentified persons had earmarked 27 decimals of land for limestone dust. “This indicates that land mafias are trying to grab this land,” he told the Hindustan Times.

However, Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha blamed the “change of guard in the state” for the incident. In December, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 25 of 81 Assembly seats. On the other hand, the alliance between the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal won 47 seats.

There were a spate of attacks across the country in 2018 on statues of Lenin, Periyar, BR Ambedkar, Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Syama Prasad Mookerjee.