Punjab orders clampdown ahead of SC protest on Monday
Chandigarh, April 1 : The Punjab government on Sunday ordered a security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Monday's protest by some organizations of the Scheduled Castes, objecting to the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.While ordering closure of all educational institutions and suspension of state-owned road transport services, the Punjab government has asked the Army and para-military forces to be on alert.
Mobile internet services in the state were suspended from 5 p.m. on Sunday till Monday evening in a bid to check rumour mongering on the social media, while all public and private transport will remain suspended during the bandh to prevent any untoward incident, an official spokesperson said here.
The orders were issued after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the security arrangements with top police and administrative officials here on Sunday evening. The review was followed by a video conference by the Chief Secretary with the Deputy Commissioners and other senior officials of all the districts.
Punjab has the highest concentration of scheduled castes among states. They constitute nearly 32 percent of the state's 2.8 crore population.
Giving details of the precautionary measures taken by the government, the spokesperson said four battalions of the Rapid Action Force, four of Border Security Force, along with 12,000 additional police personnel will remain on duty Monday to maintain law and order.
"PRTC, Punjab Roadways and PunBus, as well as buses run by private operators, would not ply on the roads through the bandh duration," the spokesperson added.
All the educational institutions, government or private, will remain closed on April 2 as a precautionary measure, the spokesperson said.
The final practical examinations of Class 10 and 12 of Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11.
While issuing strict orders to police and security forces to deal with any attempt to disturb the peace and harmony in the state with an iron hand, the Chief Minister reiterated his appeal to the organisations, that have called the bandh not to take the law in their own hands and, in particular, not to impede transport movement in any way or harass commuters.
With Punjab a key route for transportation of essential provisions to the armed forces at the borders, any disruption on the highways could seriously hamper the supply of the necessary supplies, he said.
Amarinder Singh also appealed to the protestors to ensure that the mortal remains of the Iraq victims, that are expected to arrive in Amritsar on Monday, are allowed to be transported to their native villages without any impediment.
He also directed the Punjab Police to provide strict security for the same along the routes, from the airport to the respective native villages of the victims.
Noting that the Central government had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict, he appealed to the SC/ST community should defer its protest till the final decision on the petition comes.