‘Bharat Bandh’: School, colleges shut, internet and public transport turned off

CHANDIGARH: Amid the security clampdown across the state as a precautionary measure in view of Monday’s ‘Bharat Bandh’ against the alleged dilution of SC/ST Act, all educational institutions and banks will remain closed, mobile internet services will remain suspended and public transport services will be not be available. Army and paramilitary forces have been asked to be on alert.

While mobile internet services in the state were suspended from 5 pm on Sunday till Monday evening in a bid to check rumour mongering on the social media, all public transport will remain suspended during the bandh to prevent any untoward incident, an official spokesperson of the state government said.

According to an order issued by the director public instructions (colleges), all the educational institutions, including the government colleges, government-aided colleges, private colleges, state and private universities, will remain closed on April 2, as a precautionary measure, in view of the bandh call given by some organizations. Likewise, all the government, non-government/private-aided, aided and recognized schools would also remain closed on Monday.

The final practical examinations of Class X and XII of the Punjab School Education Board, which were scheduled to be held on Monday, will now be held on April 11, as per the directives issued by the state education department.

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 officials of all the districts.

Giving details of the precautionary measures taken by the government, the spokesperson said four battalions of RAF and four of BSF, along with 12,000 additional police personnel will remain on duty on 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 during the bandh duration, the spokesperson added.

Amarinder reiterated his appeal to the organizations, which have called the bandh in protest against the Supreme Court order making immediate arrest under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act cases not mandatory, not to obstruct transport movement in the state or cause any harassment to commuters.

The armed forces, as well as the paramilitary, will be on standby to render any assistance, said the spokesperson, adding that the chief minister had directed the police to crack down against anyone found trying to disrupt the peace and harmony in the state.

Amarinder, however, urged the protestors not to take the law in their own hands and, in particular, not to impede transport movement in any way. 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 necessary supplies reaching them, he said.

Noting that the Centre had already announced its decision to file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict, Amarinder said the SC/ST community should defer its protest till the final decision on the petition comes.

Meanwhile, the department of home affairs, justice and jails has issued a notification, authorizing all the district magistrates in the state to declare any place to be a special jail under the Punjab Jail Manual in view of the bandh call.

Necessary arrangements would be made by the district magistrates in consultation with the concerned departments as well as the superintendents of jail within their district, as per the orders. The government has also appointed special executive magistrates for the maintenance of law and order, up to April 3, 2018, in their respective districts under section 21 of the CrPC.