MHA has ordered the suspension of Internet till Sunday at the three farmer protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri. The Ministry of Home Affairs invoked a rather rarely used Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety Rules) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, to suspend the internet at the protest sites from January 29, 11 PM to January 31.
The public safety provision was invoked on 26th January as well when the tractor parade took a violent turn and unruly protestors vandalized New Delhi’s iconic Red Fort. Before this, the provision was called upon twice during CAA protests on December 19 and December 20, 2019.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait took to Twitter and proclaimed, “If the administration is thinking that by suspending internet services they will be able to stop the movement, they are grossly mistaken. The more they want to muzzle farmers’ voices, the larger the protest will go.”
गाजीपुर बॉर्डर पर इंटरनेट बंद कर दिया है सरकार ने , उन्हें लगता है कि इससे आंदोलन को वो कमजोर कर देंगे तो ये उनका वहम है । किसानों की आवाज़ को कुचलने के वो जितना प्रयास करेंगे ये आंदोलन उतना बड़ा होता जाएगा।
— Rakesh Tikait (@rkeshtikait) January 30, 2021
The Haryana government has extended the internet suspension in 14 districts in Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Panipat, Hisar, Jind, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Rewari and Sirsa. The suspension includes suspension of mobile internet services like 2G, 3G, 4G, CDMA, GPRS, all SMS services (excluding banking related and emergency broadcast messages).
This questionable move comes at a point where protesters from across the country have started flocking towards the national capital’s borders to extend their support to farmers.
On Friday, Darshan Pal, who is the leader of a major farm union protesting the farm laws called Krantikari Kisan Union, demanded the restoration of internet services. As quoted by ANI, Pal said, “We demand the restoration of internet services in areas where agitation is going on. Otherwise, we will hold demonstration against it in the country.”
The situation at the three protest sites has been growing increasingly tense by the day. On Thursday, a group claiming as the locals of the area vandalized the sites saying how the farmer’s protest has affected their livelihood. In the faceoff, a sub-inspector was stabbed. The farmers and “locals” also resorted to stone-pelting. Eventually, the Police had to use mirchi bomb and tear gas to control the crowd.
Later, according to reports, police arrested 44 people, including a 22-year –old man who stabbed the policeman.