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Mobile towers damaged in stir, Punjab governor summons officials | India News

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CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI: Taking a serious view of the damage done to over 1,600 mobile towers of Reliance Jio during the ongoing farmers’ protest in the past few days across the state, Punjab governor V P Singh Badnore has summoned chief secretary Vini Mahajan and DGP Dinkar Gupta to the Raj Bhawan to seek a report on the matter.
Sources said the governor is concerned about the failure of law enforcement to prevent such attacks on communication installations which are vital to the economy and the mainstay of online education during the pandemic. Sources said BJP leadership has raised the issue with the governor.
Centre has also been keeping a wary eye on the targeting of Reliance Jio, intrigued that assets of Reliance should have been exclusively targeted when they are not into contract farming or foodgrains. The escalation of protests against the three farm bills has been marked by attacks on the mobile towers of Jio, threats and forcible closure of 40-50% Reliance retail stores and petrol vends, which has prompted the company to often pull down shutters to ensure safety of workers in these outlets.
The targeting of the company has caught the attention of central agencies who are also keeping a vigil on specific unions that are seen to be exerting pressure. “The focus of the vandals on Reliance Jio is baffling, considering that you cannot tell the tower of one service provider from another and that the parent company is not into coroproate farming or agriculture”, said a senior government functionary.

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The senseless attack on Jio towers will neither benefit the farmers’ movement nor help the growth of business in the state. In fact, it will help nobody. Law enforcement agencies should firmly deal with such miscreants.

Agencies said that local intel had alerted them to the possibility of the attacks. “We promptly raised the flag”, said another high-ranking source. He said that the singling out of the Reliance Jio was being intensely monitored because of the company’s plan to roll out an indigenous 5G network: a goal which the government has been looking forward to because of its anxiety to dodge having to depend on China’s Huawei which agencies consider to be a “security risk“.
In all, 2,000 towers were targeted, of which around 1,500 were damaged. Optic fibre cables were also targeted in some areas, disrupting services. In fact, it is more difficult to fix glitches in these cables than reviving the towers. Sources said, several complaints had been filed resulting, in some cases, to registration of FIRs.
Police in some districts have helped in restoring connectivity and now some villagers are also coming forward to help, which wasn’t the case earlier.

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