The Rajkot stadium was fortified and the city secured with deployment of large posse of police to ensure smooth conduct of the third ODI cricket match between India and South Africa on Sunday as Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel threatened to stage protests at the venue.
Following Hardik’s threat, the Rajkot administration on Saturday banned mobile internet services in the district.
“We have decided to ban mobile internet service from 10 PM tonight to 8 AM on October 19,” District Collector Manisha Chandra said.
“The ban has been imposed to maintain peace, stop spread of rumours and for smooth conduct of the international cricket match,” she said.
Hardik said on Friday that he would block the way of Indian and South African cricket teams to the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) stadium and not let them enter the venue if he and his supporters are not allowed to go inside to stage an agitation.
The 22-year-old leader on Saturday said that they have got tickets for the match and will go to the stadium.
As per the Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS), of which Hardik is the convener, they have chosen the cricket match as they want the “world to know how Patel community is being harassed in the so-called development model of Gujarat”.
“We have asked around 50,000 community members to rush to the SCA stadium tomorrow for agitation,” Hardik said.
In the wake of the threat and given the large scale violence the state witnessed recently over the quota stir, police have fortified the stadium, located on the outskirts of Rajkot city at Khandheri village, which will host the third cricket match under the Gandhi-Mandela freedom series.
“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.
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 further adding that if any police personnel on duty is caught watching the match instead of monitoring the crowd, will be punished.
Meanwhile, Hardik’s close aide Dinesh Patel said, “Hardik and members of PAAS, including Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel and myself have obtained tickets of the match and we will surely go to the venue tomorrow.”
“If we are stopped or detained tomorrow, then our Patel community members will hold protest against the state and their police, who will then face our wrath,” he said.