Hardik Patel has urged people from his community to join the protest in large numbers. (File Photo)
Mobile internet services have been blocked in Rajkot in the wake of Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel threatening to stage a protest
at the venue of the third one-day international or ODI match between India and South Africa in the district today. The services were blocked on Saturday night and will remain suspended till Monday morning.
"We have decided to ban mobile internet services from 10 pm tonight till 8 am on October 19 to maintain peace, stop rumours and for the smooth conduct of the international cricket match", District Collector Manisha Chandra said yesterday.
Mr Patel has urged people from his community to join the protest in large numbers to raise their demand for reservation under OBC quota
for which they have been agitating over the last two months.
The 22-year-old leader, who is the convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), has also said that he and his supporters will not let the Indian and South African cricket teams enter the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) stadium.
In the wake of the threat and the violence that the state witnessed
recently over the quota stir, police have fortified the stadium, located on the outskirts of Rajkot city at Khandheri village.
"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 DR Patel said.
"Besides, three drone cameras and 90 CCTVs have been installed at the stadium to closely monitor each and every movement of the viewers," he said, adding that if any police personnel on duty is caught watching the match instead of monitoring the crowd, he will be punished.
Hardik's aide Dinesh Patel said tickets have been purchased for PAAS conveners of Saurashtra region and other associates and warned that if they are stopped from entering the match venue, the state government "will have to face the wrath of the Patel community."
When asked whether their stir will spoil the country's image, he said, "We believe that the world should see how the Patel community is being harassed in the so-called development model of Gujarat".
He also alleged that BJP workers would cause a disruption at the stadium and blame Patels for that.
"We have reports that BJP men will create a ruckus at the match venue and they will blame us for that. They are going to spoil the image of the country, we will never wish that," he said.