Political leaders, cutting across party lines, participated in the day-long bandh and forced businessmen to down their shutters both in Machilipatnam and Pedana towns on Thursday protesting against desecration of B.R. Ambedkar statues in Amalapuram recently.

The protesters stopped all vehicular traffic in the towns and RTC buses did not ply till afternoon. The Pedana bus-station wore a deserted look with only a handful of passengers waiting for buses as long-distance autorickshaws also did not ply.

Leading the agitation in Pedana, Durgamukhi Chandrababu told The Hindu that a majority of traders and autorickshaw owners voluntarily downed their shutters and stopped plying vehicles. All educational institutions declared a holiday in the towns.

Streets too wore a deserted look. The Pedana municipal office was locked from outside. Its main gate was also locked so that none entered the premises. Banks and commercial establishments too did not function in Pedana. The Mahatma Gandhi Municipal Marketing Complex was closed.

Small-time vendors selling fruits and vegetables on the roadside were not affected. Medical shops were exempted from bandh. The protesters demanded that those responsible for the vandalism be brought to book.

Ayub Khan of the YSR Congress, Kataka Prasad of the Congress, Yellakala Sambayya of the TDP, Narasimha Rao of the CPI(M) and Jyothiswara Rao of the BJP participated.

At Machilipatnam, police personnel guarded the commercial establishments. The protesters went round the town raising slogans against the people who desecrated the statues.