CHANDIGARH: The Haryana government on Monday turned Karnal into a fortress with police personnel swarming and barricading the city’s entrances ahead of a farmers’ mahapanchayat and a call to gherao the Karnal Mini Secretariat slated for Tuesday.
Hundreds of armed police personnel have been deployed and traffic diversions enforced along the Delhi-Amritsar National Highway-44. Prohibitory orders banning assembly of four or more people have also been invoked.
The state government decided to suspend mobile internet services in Karnal from Monday midnight till Tuesday to “stop the spread of misinformation and rumours” through social media platforms on mobile phones and SMS.
State Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Navdeep Singh Virk said the primary objective is to maintain peace and order, prevent violence, facilitate traffic and public transport and to safeguard public property across the state in general and Karnal in particular.
Karnal SP Ganga Ram Punia said 40 companies of armed police, including 10 of CAPF (CRPF, BSF and RAF) have been deployed in the district. Water cannons and riot control vehicles have been deployed and drones kept ready. “The activity at the farmers’ rally will be videographed,’’ he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Karnal Nishant Kumar Yadav said talks were held with the farmer union leaders, “but their demands are not justified”. “No compensation will be given those who break the law. We will not allow the farmers to block the national highway and the surround the mini secretariat,’’ he warned.
The Haryana government, which had earlier ordered suspension of mobile Internet services here from Monday 12:30 pm to Tuesday midnight, decided to suspend these services in four adjoining districts as well.
The mobile Internet service will remain suspended in Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind and Panipat districts with effect from 12 am to 11:59 pm on Tuesday.
Forty companies of security personnel, including 10 companies of central paramilitary forces, have been deployed in the district where local authorities have also imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC, officials said.
Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni said that they had given a deadline of September 6 to the administration to meet their demands.
He said a meeting with district administration officials was held here on Monday, but after failing to get any satisfactory response about their demands they decided to hold a big panchayat on Tuesday morning before proceeding to the mini-secretariat to gherao it.
"We will hold a peaceful protest, but if the administration stops us, then we will break barricades," Chaduni told reporters here, adding that farmers have no plan to block the national highway.
An order issued by the Home Department stated that mobile Internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), SMS services, including bulk SMS (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services etc, except voice calling, will be suspended in Karnal "to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order".
Another order was issued by the department in the evening for suspension of mobile Internet in the four adjoining districts.
"There is a clear potential of disruption of public utilities and safety, damage to public assets and amenities and law and order in adjoining districts of Karnal, i.e. Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind and Panipat, on account of misuse of Internet services by way of spread of inflammatory material and false rumours," it said.
Earlier, the district administration issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC, banning the assembly of five or more people, and a traffic advisory with planned route diversions, the officials said.
According to a Haryana police advisory, National Highway No 44 (Ambala-Delhi) may see some traffic disruptions in the district on Tuesday.
"Therefore, the general public using NH-44 are advised to avoid journey through Karnal town or otherwise use alternate routes to go to their destination on September 7," it said.
In a late evening update, a Haryana police spokesperson said that in case need arises, planned route diversions on Delhi-Ambala national highway will be brought into effect from 9 am Tuesday, but until then traffic will ply normally.
Karnal Superintendent of Police Ganga Ram Punia said a total of 40 companies of security personnel, including 10 of Central Armed Police Forces, also comprising CRPF and BSF personnel, have been deployed.
With additional force from neighbouring districts in place, five SP-rank officers and 25 DSP-rank officers will oversee security arrangements here, Punia said.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer outfits protesting against the farm laws, had threatened to lay siege to the Karnal mini-secretariat on Tuesday if its demands were not met.
The Haryana Police had lathicharged a group of farmers disrupting traffic movement on a national highway near here on August 28 while heading towards Karnal to protest against a BJP meeting.
Over 10 protesters were injured.
The SKM had said a murder case should be registered against IAS officer Ayush Sinha who was caught on tape allegedly telling policemen to "break heads" of protesting farmers.
Sinha, who was later transferred in a reshuffle also involving some other IAS officers, has now been posted as the additional secretary in the Citizen Resources Information Department.
Chaduni had earlier sought registration of a case against those involved in the lathicharge.
He also demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh and a government job for the family of a farmer who died after allegedly sustaining injuries in the lathicharge.
However, the administration here claimed that the farmer was not injured in the police action but had died due to a heart attack.
(With PTI Inputs)