A hartal is underway today across the North-East with businesses, shops and schools across the region shutting down in protest over the recent demolition of the Mullivaikkal memorial monument in the University of Jaffna.
The destruction which took place at the middle of night on January 8 has caused massive outrage across the North-East, Tamil Nadu and the diaspora. In a move to express their fulmination against the act, Tamil political parties, student unions and civil societies urged businesses and the people to observe a North-East wide shutdown today. This call has received widespread support in Eelam, with Muslim communities also joining the shutdown.
Earlier this morning, Jaffna University Vice Chancellor assured students that the Mullivaikkal monument will be rebuilt "with proper approval" and placed a foundation stone, symbolising that he had "accepted the demands" of the students.
See photographs from the across the North-East below.
In Jaffna, the epicentre of the protests, streets are seen deserted, business enterprises shuttered and all services with the exception of those providing basic needs have been halted.
Private transportation has been curtailed and only government buses are plying at a reduced frequency. Schools and colleges are also observing the hartal and attendance has been extremely low in all educational institutions.
Muslim citizens of the North-East have also expressed their solidarity with Tamils by shutting down their enterprises in Trincomalee. School attendance was also recorded to be very low in the district.
Shops, schools and other outlets have been closed down in the district of Mullaitivu. Streets across the district including in areas such as Puthukkudiyiruppu, Oddusuddan, Visuvamadu, Mankulam, Mallavi, Thunukkai, Palinagar and Pandian Kulam can be seen in a desolate state.
Private Bus Owners’ Union in Mullaitivu have also lent their support to the cause of the hartal by completely halting their work for the day. However, government buses can be seen to be plying at a low frequency. Schools in the district are open, but are recording low levels of attendance.
Whilst government departments and banks are functioning in Mullaitivu town, presence of the public in the streets are few and far between.
In harmony with other parts of Eelam, the call to hartal has received widespread public support in Mannar district from Tamils and Muslims by shutting down their own firms and outlets.
All business enterprises including markets, pharmacies and restaurants have been closed down in Mannar. Private transport workers and fisherfolk in the district have also cancelled their work for the day.
Even though schools were reopened after a long time, attendance, in accordance with the rest of North-East, was recorded to be very low.
Muslim traders in Eravur, Batticaloa also lent their support and shut down their businesses in solidarity.