Octogenarian preserving Gandhi's autograph commits suicide

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Chennai, Jul 8 (UNI) In a tragic incident, an 84-year-old man, who had preserved Mahatma Gandhi's autograph for over seven decades before handing it over to the Government Museum for posterity, committed suicide by setting himself ablaze last night.

The octogenarian leader Seethapathy Naidu, who hailed from a wealthy family, but presently under the care of his daughter-in-law, took the extreme step at his house in suburban Chromepet yesterday.

His son was away in Dubai on employement, when the incident occurred.

Police said Naidu doused himself with kerosone and set himself ablaze. He was rushed to a hospital with 85 per cent burns, but succumbed later.

The exact reason for Mr Naidu taking the extreme step was under investigation.

On February two, 1938, Mahatma Gandhi had visited Nagapattinam as part of a nation-wide tour to mobilise relief funds for the people of Bihar, who suffered acutely due to a natural calamity.

Helped by his father, Naidu, aged 14 then, climbed up the stage and handed over Rs five to the Apostle of Peace.

Impressed by his gesture, the Father of the Nation, pulled out a piece of paper, wrote his name in Hindi and with help, in Tamil also, and handed it over Seethapathy Naidu.

Stating that it was a treasure, Naidu preserved it and even kept it inside a silver box for the last 70 years.

Though mounting debts forced him to sell the silver box, he however, managed to keep the paper autographed by Mahatma Gandhi, intact.

Concerned over the treasure paper's future after his death, he recently approached social workers of Chromepet, who got assistance from the State Government and the paper was kept in the government Museum in the city.

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