According to the report, the ashes were stolen from the memorial where they had been kept since 1948 — the year of Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu extremist.
The thieves also defaced his photographs by scrawling “traitor” in green paint all over them. Some Hindu hardliners view Gandhi as a traitor for his advocacy of Hindu-Muslim unity.
This is despite Gandhi being a devout Hindu himself.
Madhya Pradesh Police confirmed to BBC Hindi that they were investigating the theft on the grounds of actions “prejudicial to national integration” and potential breach of peace.
Mangaldeep Tiwari, caretaker of the Bapu Bhawan memorial, where the ashes were being held, said the theft was “shameful”.
“I opened the gate of the Bhawan early in the morning because it was Gandhi’s birthday,” he told an Indian media outlet. “When I returned at around 11 pm, I found the mortal remains of Gandhi missing and his poster was defaced.”