AHMEDABAD/Nagpur: Mobile internet services were cut off in parts of Gujarat on Wednesday as a security measure following clashes over politician Hardik Patel’s brief detention after his mega rally to demand reservation for the Patel community in the state.
Services like WhatsApp have been suspended to check rumours that could exacerbate tension in Gujarat, said sources.
Internet was unavailable only on mobile phones.
Police sources told media that the Patel or Patidar community protesters have mostly used WhatsApp to propagate their campaign.
An appeal for calm by Hardik Patel after he was freed from detention last night was also released on WhatsApp. He had said: “I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm. I give a call for Gujarat bandh tomorrow (Wednesday). This decision has been taken by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti considering widespread violence in the state.”
Police officials said all videos and media announcements were made by the Patel agitators on mobile internet.
“Last night, there were concerns of rumour-mongering and crowd mobilization through WhatsApp,” said a police officer, who added that the services will resume only after the situation returns to normal.
As news of Mr Patel’s detention spread, cases of arson, allegedly by the young leader’s supporters, were reported from various parts of Ahmedabad where curfew has now been imposed.
Ahmedabad has a large population of Patels, the community that Hardik Patel belongs to. The district administration has ordered schools and colleges to remain shut today.
Hardik Patel, 21, is the face of a massive agitation to demand reservation in government jobs and colleges for the wealthy and politically influential Patels.