India has blocked mobile internet services around New Delhi, where hundreds of farmers are on a day-long hunger strike to protest new farm laws.
The Home Office said internet services at three locations on the outskirts of the capital were suspended until 11pm Sunday to “maintain public safety”.
Indian authorities often block local internet services when they believe there will be unrest, although the move is unusual in the capital.
Protester Bhavesh Yadav said the government had shut down the internet in order to prevent more people from gathering.
“This measure was taken by the government so that we cannot call more people to our aid, because more and more people are at this protest site,” he said.
“It kills democracy. The rights of peoples are subjugated. It is our right to bring people together in our assembly. However, the government is trying to suppress it by shutting down the Internet for fear it will reach every nook and cranny of the country. ”
Farmers have been involved in more than two months of protests, which have become the biggest challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since taking office in 2014.
They are calling for the withdrawal of laws passed by Parliament last September that they say will favor big business and devastate the incomes of many farmers.
The government has offered to suspend the laws for 18 months, but farmers say they will not end their protests for anything other than complete repeal.
The protests were largely peaceful, but violence erupted Tuesday, Republic of India Day, when tens of thousands of farmers driving tractors and on foot stormed the historic Red Fort monument. in the capital during a brief but shocking takeover.
Clashes between protesters and government forces left one dead and nearly 400 police officers injured.
Peasant leaders have said this weekend’s hunger strike, which coincides with the anniversary of the death of pro-independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, would reaffirm the peaceful nature of the protests.