The strike began at 0600 hours and will end at 1800 hours. The public transport system was disrupted as buses were off the roads and most commercial and business establishments remained closed.
However, supermarket chains were open. Southern Railways operated normal suburban services. All trains were operated on schedule, the Railway sources said.
Airport sources said air services were not affected. Police said no untoward incident has been reported from any part of the state so far. Most IT establishments, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro among others, remained closed on Thursday.
A NASSCOM spokesperson said that certain companies had decided to compensate by opting to work on a Saturday. Though the state government said buses would ply as per schedule, almost all buses were off the roads.
The Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus, from where inter-state services are operated to various destinations, including Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tiruchirapalli and Madurai, wore a deserted look as most buses did not ply as scheduled.
Hinduja Group flagship company Ashok Leyland and auto majors Hyundai and Ford did not work on Thursday, company sources said. The Tamil cinema industry has announced suspension of all its activities, while morning and matinee shows were also cancelled.
Official sources said state government offices reported "thin" attendance. Though banks were open, only a few customers came in, bank officials said.
A Puducherry report said the strike evoked a near total response in the Union territory, with all shops, business establishments and hotels remaining closed. Medical shops were however exempt from the strike, it said.
DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi had called for the strike to "save" Tamils in Sri Lanka as well as press the Centre for a ceasefire in the island nation, besides "condemning" the Sri Lankan government.
However, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies have rejected his appeal to support the strike with Jayalalithaa calling it "a farce and a drama". They have also said they would go ahead with electioneering on Thursday.