Sept 24, Colombo: Thousands of Tamils in Sri Lanka's Northern Province staged a mass protest in Jaffna today demanding solutions to their issues.
The march and a rally led by Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran was organized by the Tamil Makkal National Front to highlight issues faced by the community, PTI reported.
"It has been seven years since the war ended. Tamil people are yet to receive reasonable solutions to their grievances," the Chief Minister was quoted as saying.
The demonstrators asked the government to halt Sinhala majority settlements and stop building Buddhist religious shrines in Tamil areas, return of the Tamil civilian lands held for military purposes, release of Tamil political prisoners and assistance in tracing missing people.
Analysts said this was the first time the northerners took part in a public gathering of this scale since Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena took over in January last year.
Businesses remained shut in the Jaffna town in solidarity while the organizers estimated that about 10,000 people from both North and East attended the rally.
The main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance, shunned the demonstration.
"The TNA pledged Tamils a federal solution at the last election. So the Tamils can be only happy with a federal solution by merging the north and east," TNA lawmaker Dharmalingam Siddathan said.