Tamils across the North-East took to the polls amidst heavy Sri Lankan military presence today, as voting began in Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections.
The Tamil homeland in the North-East has registered a sizeable turnout, so far, with all districts registering over 50% turnout as of 17.00.
Jaffna District – 67%
Vanni District – 74%
Amparai District – 73%
Batticaloa District – 76%
Trincomalee District – 74%
Voting began as early as 7 AM in the Mannar district where about 88,842 voters have been registered. Voter turnout began to pick up throughout the day across all 76 polling stations in the district. Even as voting is taking place in a peaceful and incident-free manner, about 700 police officers and at least armed 40 military troops were stationed at polling booths in the district.
It is also reported that safety measures imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic are being observed in polling booths and counting stations.
Tamil party leaders and politicians were amongst those who went to the polls this morning to cast their votes.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader and principal candidate of the party for Trincomalee constituency, R Sampanthan, cast his ballot at St.Mary’s College, Trincomalee at around 10 AM.
Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam of the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) cast his vote in his constituency earlier this morning.
Thamizh Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) leader C. V. Wigneswaran also voted in Jaffna earlier.
Other candidates and politicians across the North-East were also seen casting their votes this morning.
The TNPF's V. Mannivannan paid tribute to LTTE political leader Lt. Col. Thileepan, who fasted to death in 1987 appealing to the Indian government to honour pledges made to the Tamil people, before he cast his vote.
Charles Nirmalanathan, candidate of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Vanni, cast his ballot in the polling booth in St.Xaviers Boys’ School, Mannar.
Speaking to journalists, he said, "Secretive activities meant to eliminate the Tamils and their identity in the North and East are taking place. Specifically, activities regarding eliminating the Tamils in Vanni and putting them under Sinhalese domination are also taking place. Tamils should forget the bitter past and vote for the home symbol (symbol of the TNA)."
Selvam Adaikalanathan, TNA candidate for the Vanni, voted in a school at Vidathal Theevu at around 10 AM.
Former provincial council member Sivasakthi Anandan cast his ballot in Tamil Madhya Maha Vidyalayam, Vavuniya and told reporters that this time Tamil people would vote for TNA and give them an overwhelming victory.
Other TNA leaders also appeared confident about their party's chances in this election. Former minister in the Northern Province P Sathyalingam, voting in Vavuniya, told the media "This time, TNA would secure more than four seats in the Vanni". "I will win by securing a lot of votes," he added.
"TNA’s victory in this election is certain," former member of Northern Provincial Council Ravikaran, as he cast his ballot in the Kallapadu polling station in Mullaitivu. "It can be seen that overwhelming military forces have been deployed to oversee this election. This could have been avoided making people less fearful to come out to vote. Nevertheless, I believe my people will come out in large numbers to vote."
Other TNA candidates, including Mavai Senathirajah, Sumanthiran, Sritharan and Saravanapavan also cast their votes in Jaffna.
Ananthi Sasitharan and Kajatheepan, both former members of the Northern Provincial Council, were also seen voting earlier today.
See the full list of candidates for the election here.
Also see the candidates on the National List here.