Chennai: A dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK seeking an end to fighting in Sri Lanka virtually crippled life in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, residents and witnesses said.
Almost all public and private vehicles went off the roads in Chennai while most shops and businesses were shut.
News reports said that life was also hit in many cities including Tiruchirappalli, Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, Madurai, Tuticorin, Tirupur and Villupuram besides Puducherry.
Chief Electoral Officer Naresh Gupta said arrangements had been made to ensure that candidates are able to file nominations for the Lok Sabha elections despite the shutdown.
With the usually clogged arterial road Anna Salai devoid of traffic, young boys merrily played cricket.
D Masilamani, a 13-year-old and one of the players, and his mates had a general idea about the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka but doubted if the strike would have an impact on the situation.
"We are emotional and all that. But the fighting is happening some 1,000 km away. We are not (even) too bothered what happens in the next street," said S K Muruga Das, a young player.
M Bhupathy Rajan, 40, who runs an outlet selling electronic knick-knacks in Puducherry, was worried about a day's business lost.
"I will end up losing Rs 2,500 in profits because vacationing crowds usually throng Puducherry this time of the year. All of us are angry about Tamil suffering in Sri Lanka, but should our governments not do something more useful than calling for shutdowns?"
A visiting non-resident Indian doctor found the apathy confusing.
"While Tamils in the US and Canada are demonstrating noisily against the Sri Lankan government's military attacks, the general apathy here is confusing," TP Ramakrishnan, a general practitioner on a private visit from Pennsylvania, told IANS.
The DMK called Thursday's shutdown to press the central government to put pressure on Sri Lanka to declare a ceasefire.
Colombo has refused to halt its military offensive against the Tamil Tigers.
More than 100,000 grieving and fatigued Tamil civilians have fled the war zone, creating a huge humanitarian crisis.