Sri Lanka’s restive North came to a grinding halt on Tuesday in protest of the killing of two Jaffna university students in a police shooting on Thursday night.
Schools and business centres were completely closed in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya districts. State and private banks and companies across the north were also closed for business. Streets were deserted with public and private transport services supporting the general shut down called by all Tamil Parties and mass organisations.
Special security measures were put in place amid an uneasy calm. Riot police were seen being deployed around Jaffna University and the police stations.
Muslim traders in Jaffna have also given their support by shutting down their businesses for the day.
Speaking to Ceylon News, a Muslim businessman in Jaffna said that the police killing of the Jaffna university students “has given rise to a question whether it was a pre-planned one to destroy the peaceful situation in the north”.
“No such incident should happen in future and the atmosphere of peace should be protected. This hartal is organised to deliver this message,” he said.
“It is important that the perpetrators should be brought before justice without any delay. It is incumbent on the government to take special steps that should ensure peace in the north and the rest of the country”.
Meanwhile, a government analyst team has commenced forensic investigation into the killing.
Two Jaffna University Arts Faculty third years students – Vijayakumar Sulakshan (24) of Kantharodai and Nadarajah Gajan (23) of Kilinochchi – were killed when they were returning to their campus hostel on a motorbike at the Kulappiddi junction at Kokkuvil.
Although Jaffna police initially claimed that the students – riding a motorcycle – had crashed into a wall, resulting in their deaths, the judicial inquiry into the deaths had revealed that at least one of them died due to close-range shooting.
Students attached to all the faculties of the Jaffna university staged a massive protest rally on Monday opposite Jaffna District Secretariat and the Governor’s Secretariat, demanding justice for the fellow students killed.
All faculties of the Jaffna University will remain shut down for academic activities until justice is served for the students killing.