Farmers Protest: Haryana Extends Internet, Bulk SMS Ban In 7 Districts As Delhi Chalo March Continues

New Delhi: As the farmers’ ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest rages on, the Haryana government has decided to keep the mobile internet and bulk SMS services shut down in seven districts of the state till February 23. The order, issued by the government, stated that Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa districts would not have access to mobile internet services. The ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest, led by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, is demanding a law on minimum support price for crops and other issues from the Centre.

The protest march was paused for two days on Wednesday after a clash at Khanauri, one of the two border points between Punjab and Haryana, resulted in the death of a protester and injuries to about 12 police personnel. The other border point, Shambhu, along with Khanauri, remains occupied by thousands of farmers who are camping there to press for their demands.

The farmer leaders, who are part of the protest, had earlier rejected the Centre’s offer to buy pulses, maize and cotton at the MSP from government agencies for five years, saying it was not beneficial for the farmers. The farmers from Punjab had started their march to Delhi on Tuesday, but were stopped by the security forces at Shambhu and Khanauri points on the Punjab-Haryana border. The protesters have not moved from the two border points since then.

T V S N Prasad, the Additional Chief Secretary of Haryana, said in the order that extended the mobile internet ban till Friday, “The current law & order situation in the state is still critical and tense in the district Ambala, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad and Sirsa.”

He added, “There is a high risk of public utilities, public assets and public law and order being disrupted in the above-mentioned districts due to the misuse of internet services by spreading inflammatory material and false rumours.” The order was issued under Section 5 of Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and Rule 2 of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules 2017.

The order also said that the mobile internet services, bulk SMS (except for banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services, etc. provided on mobile networks (except for voice calls) in the seven districts would be suspended till February 23. This is not the first time that the suspension has been imposed. It has been extended several times before i.e. on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20. The order said that the suspension was necessary to maintain peace and public order in the districts.