Amid raging protests by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh at Delhi borders, the Haryana government has issued orders to suspend internet services in 14 more districts.
On Tuesday it had ordered the suspension of mobile internet services in 3 districts—Sonipat, Jhajjar and Palwal after a violent farmers' protest rocked neighbouring Delhi. The total number of Haryana districts in which people will not be able to use mobile internet services is now 17.
The Haryana government on Friday decided to suspend mobile internet services in 14 more districts of the state till 5 pm of January 30 “to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order” in the wake of the farmers’ agitation against the three agriculture laws.
The mobile internet services except voice calls will remain suspended with immediate effect until 5 pm on Saturday in districts of Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Panipat, Hisar, Jind, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Fatehabad, Rewari and Sirsa districts, an order issued by the Home Department said.
Thousands of protesting farmers had clashed with the police during the tractor rally in Delhi called by farmer unions on January 26 to highlight their demand for the repeal of the Centre's three farm laws.
Many of the protesters, driving tractors, reached the Red Fort and entered the monument. Some protesters even hoisted religious flags on its domes and the flagstaff at the ramparts, where the national flag is unfurled by the prime minister on Independence Day.
The Haryana government ordered suspension of telecom services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services, etc provided on mobile networks except the voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of districts of the 14 districts and extended suspension in the districts of Sonipat, Palwal and Jhajjar for next 24 hours till 5 pm on January 30, according to the order.
"This order has been issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the jurisdiction of these three districts of Haryana,” it added.
“Whereas it has been brought to my notice by ADGP, CID, Haryana…that provocative misinformation and fake news on social media regarding ongoing farmers’ agitation has been rampant across in various districts of Haryana and there is a likelihood of disturbance of law and order, public peace and tranquility in some districts of the state by protesters, agitators, miscreants and anti-social elements…,” the order issued by the Haryana's Home Department said while announcing the suspension of the mobile internet services.
“…And whereas, there is a clear potential of public utilities, damage to public assets and amenities and disruption of public law and order in some districts on account of misuse of internet services by way of spread of inflammatory material and false rumours…
“ In order to stop the spread of disinformation and rumours and divisive propaganda through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc on mobile phones and SMS, for facilitation of mobs of agitators and demonstrators who 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 order further said.
In the wake of the violence in Delhi on January 26, Haryana Home Secretary Rajeev Arora had on Tuesday issued an order to snap mobile internet services in the three districts, which are in close proximity of Delhi, to "stop the spread of disinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter" for mobilisation of anti-social elements who can disturb peace, cause loss of life and damage to property.