Mobile internet services have been banned in Rajkot district and the venue of the third one day international match between India and South Africa on Sunday turned into a fortress after Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel’s threat to stage a protest at the stadium during the match.
“We have decided to ban mobile internet service from 10 pm tonight to 8 am on October 19,” district collector Manisha Chandra said on Saturday.
“The ban has been imposed to maintain peace, stop spread of rumours and for smooth conduct of the international cricket match”, she said.
The 22-year-old Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti chief has threatened to disrupt the tie and block the way of players of both teams at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) stadium to highlight his demands.
The district administration has turned the venue into a fortress with 2,500 police personnel deployed .
Three drone-cameras and 90 CCTVs have been installed to monitor the crowd and nets erected around the stands to prevent protesters from getting on the field, IG (Rajkot range) DR Patel said. In a warning to his own men, he said anyone caught watching the match instead of keeping an eagle eye out for trouble would be punished.
“We have enough police presence and additional forces have also been called from adjoining districts,” said Rajkot SP Gagandeep Gambhir.
“Over two thousand policemen, three companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), one company of Rapid Action Force (RAF), and seven teams of quick response cells (QRC) and five Superintendents of Police (SPs) have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of the match,” Rajkot Range IG D R Patel said.
A day after Hardik had said he would block the way of Indian and South African cricket teams to the stadium and not let them enter the venue if he and his supporters are not allowed to go inside the stadium to stage the agitation, the 22-year-old on Saturday said they have got tickets for the match and will go to the stadium.
He has also urged the Patel community members to remain present in large numbers during the match to raise their demand for reservation under OBC quota for which they have been agitating over last two months.
“We have asked around 50,000 community members to rush to the SCA stadium tomorrow for agitation,” the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener said.
“My match ticket has been purchased by Rajkot unit of PAAS and I am going to attend the match tomorrow,” Hardik said.
Meanwhile, Hardik’s close aide Dinesh Patel said PAAS conveners of Saurashtra region and other associates will go to watch the match and if they are stopped, the state government will have to face the wrath of the Patel community.
(With inputs from PTI)