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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Punjab unions refuse to lift stir even after Reliance rules out foray into agri marketing

Apart from the sit-in, over 1,550 Jio towers have been damaged across the state since the call by farmers to boycott the mobile phone service provider.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: January 6, 2021 2:05:05 am
Farmers protest, Reliance Industries, PunjabMembers of various farmers' organisations blocking the Reliance refilling station during their protest at Patran. (Express Photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

A day after Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court over vandalism of its mobile towers and declared that it had no plans to enter corporate farming, protesting farming unions maintained that their dharnas outside petrol pumps and stores owned by private companies will continue.

All farm unions in Punjab had started dharnas outside nearly 90 Reliance and ESSAR petrol pumps and more 10 shopping malls/stores of various firms since October 1 last year. Dharnas from outside dealer based petrol pumps were lifted in the state from November 5 last year. But 38 sit-ins outside company-owned pumps continue in the state and have completed 97 days of protest.

Asked if dharnas will be lifted after RIL’s statement in court, Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan), said: “No, we are not lifting dharna at all from any of the petrol pumps or shopping malls, stores…As of now our union is protesting at ten company-owned pumps of Reliance and at ten shopping malls as well in Fazilka, Sangrur, Barnala, Bathinda, Mansa etc. We will not move back. These laws are for corporate houses, hence our protest stands for the major corporate houses of India..no matter what statement they are giving after months together.”

The remaining 32 farmer unions are protesting at 28 company owned petrol pumps in Punjab which will continue, revealed Jagmohan Singh Patiala working committee member All India Kisan Sangrash Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). He said, ”Bills are for trading purpose and hence we cannot rule out corporate houses. So we will continue protests till laws are repealed.”

Apart from this over 1,550 Jio towers had also been damaged by protestors in Punjab when farmers called for boycott of Jio. Major damage was in Sangrur, a total of 117 towers had been damaged out of which physical damage was only in four cases which was in Sandaur, Sangrur Sadar area, Lehra and Chhajali areas, said SSP Viveksheel Soni. He said one case was reported in Moonak on Monday where the power supply of a mobile tower was snapped. It was a tower shared by Jio as well as BSNL, revealed Sangrur police. Otherwise, no fresh cases have been reported. Four towers where physical damage was reported were yet to be repaired in Sangrur.

Bhupindejit Singh Virk, SSP, Bathinda, said, “There was no physical damage in any of the towers in Bathinda. Power to ten towers is yet to be restored.”

In Mansa, Fazilka, Ferozepur and Barnala, no fresh case has been reported for more than a week, informed police.
In Ferozepur, 125 towers had faced snapping of power supply and all had been restored back to normal, and no new case was reported for the past 4 days, confirmed SSP, Ferozepur, Bhupinder Singh.

Harjit Singh, SSP, Fazilka, said, “In all the 30 cases, power had been snapped, which has been restored. Only in one case, the fuse box was dismantled, but now things are in order.”

In Barnala, 23 towers faced power snapping which have been restored according to SSP Sandeep Goel while in Mansa 40 such incidents were reported and all have been restored. No new case has been reported for the past one week, said SSP, Mansa, Surinder Singh Lamba.

Meanwhile, the boycott Jio call is still continuing though the incidents of snapping power supply of towers or other damage is not being reported from most districts as per information from cops.

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