A group of people protesting against the Indian government’s farm laws in Washington DC on Saturday defaced a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, ANI reported. The Indian Embassy blamed “Khalistani elements” for the incident.

Hundreds of Sikhs from Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and other American states took out a car rally to the Indian Embassy in downtown Washington DC on Saturday to show support for the farmers protesting in India, PTI reported.

Soon, people carrying Khalistani flags joined the protest. They shouted anti-India slogans and pasted a poster over Gandhi’s statue. A video from the site of the protest also showed a Khalistani flag draped over the statue.

Another group hung a dummy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture around the neck of the statue with a rope. The Washington DC Police and Secret Services were present when the incident took place.

The Indian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that it discussed the incident with the US Department of State for an early investigation and action against the culprits. “The statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza in front of the Embassy was defaced by Khalistani elements, on 12 December 2020,” it said. “The Embassy strongly condemns this mischievous act by hooligans masquerading as protesters against the universally respected icon of peace and justice.”

Indians living abroad, especially in the US and Canada, have been holding protests to show solidarity with the agitating farmers.

Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 18 days against the laws. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.

The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.