New Delhi: The Haryana government has suspended mobile internet and SMS services across 17 of the 22 districts in the state – areas from where there were reports of farmers continuing their mobilisation to join forces with the protesters at Delhi borders.
According to a notification issued by the Haryana Department of Home Affairs, mobile internet has been suspended till 5 pm on Saturday (January 30) in Ambala, Yamuna Nagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Panipat, Hisar, Jind, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Rewari and Sirsa districts. In Palwal, Jhajjar and Sonepat, where the suspension was already in place, it has been extended. The government says this is to stop the spread of “provocative information and fake news on social media”.
Since this “fake news” has been “rampant”, the order says, “there is a likelihood of disturbance of law & order, public peace and tranquility in some districts of the state of Haryana by protesters, agitators, miscreants and anti social elements”. The internet is being “misused”, the order continues, and there is a threat of “damage to public assets and amenities”.
The protesters, according to the notification, “can cause serious loss of life and damage to public and private properties by indulging in arson or vandalism and other types of violent activities”.
The state’s action seems aimed at stopping further farmers from joining the agitation at Delhi’s borders, where a protest against the Centre’s three new contentious farm laws has been ongoing for two months now. It had been reported that a number of farmers from Jind, Rohtak, Kaithal, Hisar, Bhiwani and Sonipat had decided to head to Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders.
This new swell of support was triggered by the government’s attempted crackdown on the farmers’ protest, usinhg the fact that the Republic Day tractor march had resulted in violence in some parts of the city. However, instead of succumbing to police pressure such as the UP Police’s ultimatum to clear the Ghazipur protest site, farmers’ have mobilised in larger numbers and said they will stand their ground.
However, the police is not the only threat to the farmers’ movement. Right-wing groups appear to have mobilised around the protest sites, and at Singhu border they uprooted tents put in place by the farmers and pelted stones at the protesters.