Special Correspondent

KHAMMAM: Tempers ran high after a statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised in Gandhi Chowk -- a bustling business locality in the town by some unidentified persons in the early hours of Saturday.

A note left on the spot reportedly with some derogatory remarks against the political leadership at the State and the Centre, was undersigned by the vandals as ‘Telugu Bidda'. The Telangana bandh was marred by the lone incident in the district.

Leaders of different political parties came together in condemning the incident. Led by chamber of commerce leaders -- Koppu Naresh and Mella Cheruvu Venkateswar Rao -- they made a representation to the Collector N. Nageswar Rao and wanted steps to protect the statues of national leaders that were coming under attack in the town quite frequently. The statue of Potti Sriramulu was also damaged in the town recently.

Installed in 1953

The chamber leaders said the statue was installed in 1953 to commemorate the historic visit of Mahatma Gandhi to the town in 1946. Gella Kesava Rao, an ardent follower of Gandhi, in coordination with a few other leaders from the Khammam Chamber of Commerce had got the statue made in Rajasthan.

Thousands of people, particularly freedom fighters, across the region had assembled at the railway station to receive him. They all expected Bapuji to address the crowd. But he had recited ‘Raghupati Raghava Rajaram' and made the crowd to repeat it thrice.