Unknown individuals reportedly defaced a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in India Jan. 26 with the words “ISIS zindabad,” which translates to “long live ISIS,” and a warning of a possible ISIS attack.
Officials say the message was written in paint on the statue in Dudu, in Rajasthan state, and reportedly threatened an attack during India’s Republic Day celebrations Jan. 26, Scroll.in reports.
The holiday is a celebration of the day India’s constitution was adopted in 1950 after a long struggle for independence from the British, Al-Jazeera English reports. Gandhi helped lead the quest for independence.
French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest for this year’s celebrations. It is said to be the first time non-Indians participated in the event.
“The act seems to be by some miscreants but we are taking it seriously and have informed the security agencies. A probe into the incident has begun and we are investigating the objective behind it -- whether it was done to create communal tension or was an act by an [ISIS] sympathizer,” Inspector General DC Jain said, reports the Hindustan Times.
Previously, 14 suspects were arrested for allegedly also planning an attack on Republic Day and for their alleged links to ISIS, reports Scroll.in.
The vandalism incident also comes after India recently blocked 94 websites associated with ISIS, India Times reports.
“The work of Indian handlers is to identify people who tweet or share pro-ISIS and anti-West posts. Such users are potential ISIS sympathizers. Such people are contacted by ISIS members on social media … If they show interest, they are enrolled into the terror outfit,” said a security agency official.
Reports also indicate ISIS is trying to pay Indian hackers $10,000 to hack into government website and access confidential documents.
"Hackers were offered a huge sum. Such amount has never been offered to any Indian hacker before. We found that the offers were being made to spread ISIS reach in the country," Kislay Choudhary, a cyber crime expert, told India Times.
More than 30,000 people have reportedly been in contact with ISIS in response to the reward, according to India Times.