The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), an industry association of telecom operators, on Tuesday condemned the attack on Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio's tower infrastructure in Punjab by famers protesting against the recently passed farm laws.
The COAI in a statement said that it respects people's right to protest on any issue, but sabotaging the telecom network infrastructure and disrupting telecom services as a form of protest by anyone is strongly condemned.
"Telecom services are the lifeline of lakhs of customers, including students taking online classes, professionals working from home, people going in for online health consultations in the tough time of COVID 19. The disruption of telecom services, which are considered "essential" under various enactments, is causing immense inconvenience to the common man for whom the mobile services are so essential," said Lt. Gen Dr. SP Kochhar, DG, COAI.
"During the lockdown and the continuing pandemic, warriors of the telecom sector worked tirelessly to provide seamless and uninterrupted connectivity across the length and breadth of the country through doorstep delivery, infrastructure augmentation and 24x7 network support," Kochhar added.
As per report, over 1,500 telecom towers owned by Jio have been damaged in Punjab, which has led to disruption in services in several parts of the state. As per a PTI report, power supply to towers that relay telecom signals was snapped and cables cut in many parts of Punjab.
Earlier on Monday, the towers infrastructure association TAIPA, which had written a letter to IGP (Law and Order) of Punjab Police, said it was planning to write another letter since the attacks have escalated over the past week. "We are taking cognisance of the damage done, and will write another letter shortly," says T.R. Dua, director general at TAIPA.
Jio faces ire from the protesting farmers as they allege that some portions of the law are believed to be favouring large business groups, particularly Reliance Industries (RIL) and Adani Group. The farmers have been making calls to boycott RIL and Adani Group as a result of this perception.
Even after the appeal from the Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh to stop attacks on the telecom infrastructure of Jio, attacks on its towers and optical fiber material have not halted.
By Chitranjan Kumar