Telecom Towers Targeted in Punjab Amid Farmer Protests


A SIM cards vendor operating a stall in Amritsar on Monday invites his customers to purchase Airtel as an alternative to Jio as farmers protest against giant corporations including Jio’s owner, Reliance. — AFP

Farmers union leaders, however, denied any role in the guerrilla action against the telecom towers in Punjab state.

Clarion India

AMRITSAR — More than 1,600 telephone towers have been reportedly vandalised in Punjab amid farmers’ increasingly angry campaign against government agriculture reforms, disrupting telecom services in the state.

More than one month passed as tens of thousands of farmers are camping out on highways leading to the national capital, New Delhi, in protest at three new laws implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that they fear will dismantle regulated agricultural markets, threaten their livelihood and benefit large companies.

According to Reuters, a source close to Jio said more than 1,400 of its 9,000 plus towers were affected as power supplies and fibre to the towers were cut but could not confirm whether farmers were behind the damage.

Some bundles of Jio’s fibre kept for laying were also burnt at one location, the source said, declining to be named as the matter is private.

Jio, when reached by the news agency, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Farmers union leaders had, however, denied any role in the guerrilla action against the telecom towers in Punjab state, country’s agricultural heartland.

Protesters had also blockaded one of Punjab’s biggest cooking oil depots owned by Adani subsidiary Fortune in the Punjab city of Amritsar, reports AFP.

The government defending the three farm laws says that the changes, that allowed farmers to sell their produce on free markets, were needed to modernise the rural sector, the foundation of the Indian economy, and boost farm incomes.

Farmers had demanded that the laws be repealed and minimum prices for key produce be guaranteed.

Five round of talks between farmers and the govt have failed to break the ice. A new round of talks between union leaders and the government is to be held on Wednesday. But protesters had vowed to step up their action if there was no breakthrough.

Meanwhile, farmer leaders at the agitation site on the Delhi border on Tuesday appealed protesting people that these vital infrastructure should not be damaged.

In their appeal from the Singhu border where their agitation entered 34th day, farmer leaders said the mobile tower and infrastructure of any company should not be damaged as their call was only on boycotting a company.

(With inputs from agencies)

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