New Delhi, January 30:

The Centre on Saturday places a temporary suspension on internet services in Singhu, Ghazipur, and Tikri and their adjoining areas till 11pm, January 31, to “maintain public safety and averting public emergency”.

This is the second such suspension taking place in a week, the first suspension being imposed on January 26, soon after the tractor march of the farmers deviated from its routes and entered the Capital, leading to mayhem at ITO and the Red Fort. Internet services were suspended in several areas in Punjab and Haryana as well.

“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,” Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said.

On Friday, tempers rose at Singhu border, which is the main site of the farmers’ protest since November, as clashes broke out between farmers and a group of people who came to oust the farmers. The two groups engaged in stone-pelting while Delhi Police had to fire multiple rounds of teas gas shells. During the clash, Delhi Police SHO Pradeep Paliwal was attacked.

The group of people claimed themselves to be locals, though AAP said they were BJP goons. Tikri border too witnessed unrest on Friday as a group of about 50 persons tried to get near the spot where farmers are protesting. But the situation was soon brought under control.

After Friday’s clash at Singhu, the Delhi Police said they have arrested 44 people, including the man who attacked the SHO with a sword.

On Republic Day, the internet disruption affected many parts of Delhi and the services were only restored the next day. Protesters at the border points, however, complained that internet services were not fully restored to them after Republic Day.

The Ghazipur protest site remained peaceful, though the crowd swelled there as several farmers joined the site after Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait’s emotional appeal went viral. On Saturday morning, slow internet was reported from Ghazipur as well, before the MHA ordered temporary suspension.

The tractor march taken out by farmers on Republic Day became a flashpoint in a so-far peaceful protest as a group of protesters entered the Capital, clashed with Police at ITO, marched to the Red Fort and put up Nishan Sahib on top it. The incident put farmers leaders under fire though they alleged BJP conspiracy to derail their “peaceful” movement.

In the aftermath of the Republic Day incident, the Uttar Pradesh Police removed a group of protesters from Baghpat. A similar move was apprehended at the Ghazipur protest site as the Ghaziabad district administration asked the protesters to vacate the area. However, the protesters have not yielded and more protesters joined in the past few days.

(Courtesy HIndustan Times)