The Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday announced the suspension of internet services in Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri border areas and nearby places from 11 pm on Friday till 11 pm on Sunday. These areas are the epicentre of the farmers’ protests against the agriculture laws.

In a notification, the government said that the order was necessary in order to maintain public safety and to avert a public emergency. The situation at farmers’ protest sites on Delhi’s borders has been tense since the violence at the farmers’ Republic Day tractor rally.

Following the Republic Day incident, the ministry had ordered the suspension of internet services at Singhu, Ghazipur, Tikri, Mukarba Chowk, Nangloi and adjoining areas, according to News18. On Friday, the Haryana government had extended the mobile internet and messaging services in 14 more districts till 5 pm on Saturday, taking the overall count of affected districts to 17.

Farmers protested against the Centre’s decision with Krantikari Kisan Union Darshan Pal demanding the restoration of the services. “We demand the restoration of internet services in areas where agitation is going on,” Pal was quoted on Friday by ANI. “Otherwise, we will hold demonstration against it in the country.”

On Saturday, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait the government was deluded if it thinks that stopping internet services at the Ghazipur border will weaken the farmer’s movement. “The more they try to crush the voice of the farmers, the greater this movement will become.” he tweeted.

On Thursday, farmers protesting at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border had been given an ultimatum to vacate the site by midnight. As the farmers prepared for eviction, Tikait tearfully declared that he would rather die by suicide than end the agitation. His comments drew huge groups of protestors from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana back to the site. Reports said that frequent power cuts were witnessed in the evening at the protest site in Ghazipur and the water supply was also cut off.

The farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day had turned chaotic after a section of protestors deviated from the routes agreed to with the Delhi Police. A group of protestors also stormed the Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag. One protestor was killed in the clashes.

Twenty-five criminal cases have been filed in connection with the violence, and 19 persons have been arrested so far. The police have also detained around 200 protestors on charges of rioting, damaging public property and attacking its personnel.

The police have alleged that farmer leaders made inflammatory speeches, and were involved in the violence during the tractor parade. Farmers have denied the allegations and blamed “antisocial elements” for the chaos. Several farmer leaders, including Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav and Bharatiya Kisan Union’s Haryana unit President Gurnam Singh Chaduni, were named in one of the first information reports filed by the police.