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Burnaby RCMP suspect power tool used to cut off SFU Gandhi statue's head

Police were called to Burnaby Mountain at 8:30 p.m. Monday after reports a bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi at SFU was missing its head.
A bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi was cast in 1969 and donated to SFU by the Indian community in B.C., according the City of Burnaby website.

Police suspect a power tool was used to cut the head of a bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the SFU Burnaby campus Monday.

The university removed the damaged sculpture after it was decapitated sometime Monday.

"We are deeply disappointed that someone would do such an act," read a statement on the university's Twitter account Tuesday. "Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Burnaby RCMP has launched an investigation into the incident, according to Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Mike Kalanj.

He said police got a call from the university just after 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The damage appears to be “a deliberate act of vandalism,” according to Kalanj.

“It’s believed a power tool was likely used,” he said.

Investigators canvassed for surveillance video and spoke to witnesses, and the investigation is ongoing, according to Kalanj.

“Burnaby RCMP is aware that Gandhi statues have been damaged in other areas of Canada in the past,” he said. “Police are looking at all aspects of this incident, including the possible motivation. We are urging any witnesses, or anyone with information, to come forward.”

When asked whether police are treating the beheading as hate motivated, Kalanj said the investigation was still in the early stages.

“That would be something we would look into for sure, but first and foremost we need to find some suspects.”

SFU announced on Twitter Monday the damaged sculpture had been removed and SFU Galleries would “assess and determine next steps.”

“We recognize this incident is upsetting to member of the university community," stated the tweet. "Support services are available to those that need them.”

Monday’s vandalism drew comment from the Indian consulate.

In a tweet, it condemned the “heinous crime” and urged Canadian authorities to “investigate the matter urgently and bring the perpetrators to justice swiftly.”

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
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