Tamil civil society groups, political parties and Jaffna University student unions have called for a hartal to be observed tomorrow across the Northern and Eastern provinces to condemn the demolition of a memorial to remember those killed in the northern conflict.
A tense situation erupted outside the gates of the Jaffna University on Friday evening as the war memorial erected inside the university premises was demolished by the university authorities under the tight security of security forces.
The memorial erected by the student union was destroyed by the university administration on the basis that no approval was obtained to build it.
University students and the public gathered in front of the university on Friday night when the authorities locked the university premises, preventing students from entering. Throughout Friday night, students and residents protested demanding that the authorities should stop destroying the memorial.
The protests continued yesterday until the Police announced that those taking part in the protests would be taken for PCR tests for COVID-19. A gathering of about 200 people dispersed after that.
Two university students arrested on Friday were released on bail yesterday.
However, the university authorities went ahead and demolished the memorial. There are two more monuments erected within the university.
The monument was constructed by the student union in 2018 and declared open the following year. Former Vice Chancellor I. Vikneswaran was removed later reportedly for his failure to remove the monument.
The present Vice Chancellor, S. Satkunarajah, said the decision to remove the memorial was taken on the basis that no approvals was given for the construction.
He told the agitating students on Friday night that he had taken steps to remove the monument due to pressure from the government authorities since the monument was built without obtaining approval.
Meanwhile University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Sampath Amaratunga has denied reports that his office issued directives to demolish the memorial.
“The Jaffna University is a delicate place. We cannot allow monuments that would create enmity between various communities inside the university. I haven’t given any particular directives or issued any circulars to the Vice Chancellor to remove the memorial. As a public official, he acted according to government rules and regulations,” Prof Amaratunga told the Sunday Times.