Demonstrators hit the streets of Manchester today calling for a soon-to-be unveiled statue of Mahatma Gandhi to be scrapped.
A nine-foot figure of the anti-colonialist campaigner is due to be presented outside Manchester Cathedral on Monday, but not everyone is happy about it.
The Alliance Against Gandhi Statues (AAGS) criticise him for calling black Africans ‘savages’ and ‘animals’ and raised concerns over his ‘celibacy tests’ with teenage girls.
On his way in from London, AAGS spokesman Dr Shreekant Borkar told Metro.co.uk Gandhi opposed racist laws as a lawyer in South Africa for selfish reasons.
He said: ‘It’s not that he wanted to sit with the whites on trains it was that he didn’t want to sit with blacks.’
According to a book by historians Ashwin Desai and KwaZulu Natal, Gandhi said Indians being forced to use the same entrances would lead their behaviour to become ‘degraded to the habits of original natives’.
Dr Borkar called him a ‘bigger racist than the British’ and said he was also prejudiced against ‘low-caste Hindus’.
A Mahatma Gandhi statue was removed from the campus of the University of Ghana last year as students protested about him calling black Africans ‘inferior’.
It comes after University of Manchester students called for the city council to reject the monument, donated by spiritual group Shrimad Rajchandra Mission after the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing.
The AAGS, whose members are originally from India, also raise concerns over bizarre ‘celibacy tests’ picked up by Gandhi after the death of his wife Kasturba in 1944.
Several accounts claim he used to tell teenage girls, including his grandnieces, to sleep naked next to him so he could see if he could control his arousal.
Dr Borkar added: ‘Basically he was manipulating young girls, he was just entertaining himself.’
Indian feminist Rita Banerji described him as ‘a man who uses his position of power to manipulate and sexually exploit the people he directly controls’.
The group also say Gandhi labelled women who use contraceptives as ‘whores’.
AAGS say the Indian establishment have carefully crafted his image to make sure he remains a national icon ever since his death in 1948.
Shekhar Bodhkar, another protest organiser, said the five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee was ‘not a good role model for anybody’.
He added: ‘He said all these things that people don’t know, they have this rosy image. But he’s not a saint he’s a sinner.’
A statement from the group added: ‘Indian and Western mainstream media avoids talking about the bleak side of Gandhi’s personality as it may obstruct their bilateral relations and mutual economic interests.
‘However, the diplomatic motive and political correctness that results into Gandhi statues being erected in West is a mockery of its egalitarian and democratic values West represent and more so the UK.’
A spokesperson for Manchester City Council told Metro.co.uk: ‘Although we aware that there is some debate about Gandhi’s life, most people in the city will see the statue in the context in which it was intended – to spread a message of peace, love and harmony.’
The Shrimad Rajchandra Mission has been contacted for comment.