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Punjab farmers step up stir against Reliance, snap power supply to Jio towers

Farmers owing allegiance to different farmers’ unions have shut the power supply to several Jio towers in Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, Mansa, Barnala, Fazilka, Patiala and Moga districts in last three days.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: December 25, 2020 8:36:09 am
Video grab of farmers cutting the power supply to a Jio tower

After staging protests outside the petrol pumps and retail outlets of Reliance, the farmers in Punjab protesting against the three central agri laws, stepping up their agitation have now started disconnecting the power supply to Jio mobile towers disrupting the telecom giant’s services in several parts of the state.

Farmers owing allegiance to different farmers’ union have shut the power supply to several Jio towers in Nawanshahr, Ferozepur, Mansa, Barnala, Fazilka, Patiala and Moga districts in last three days.

In Ferozepur, the power supply to the cellular transmission towers was cut by farmers separately under the banner of BKU (Ugrahan) and BKU (Dakaunda).

“We disconnected power supply to five Jio mobile towers in Ferozepur. We did this to lodge our protest. Our fight is against the corporate houses,” said BKU (Dakaunda) leader Darshan Singh Karhma.

BKU (Ugrahan)’s Gora Singh Bhainibagha confirmed that they cut the power connection to four mobile towers in Mansa on Wednesday and on Thursday, staged dharna outside Jio offices.

In Nawanshahr, farmers under the banner of Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) disconnected power supply to 11 Jio mobile towers. KKU leader Master Bhupinder Singh Wariach said, “These black laws have been made to benefit the corporates, hence we are lodging our protest as the government is not ready to listen to us at all”.

In most of the villages in Barnala and Bathinda, farmers locked the gates of towers after snapping the power supply.

Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, general secretary of BKU (Ugrahan ) said they have been protesting against the corporates sector ever since the Centre came up with the three farm ordinances. “First we sat outside petrol pumps of Reliance and ESSAR. Then we protested outside the Reliance malls and stores. We lifted our dharna from the dealer-based petrol pumps of these firms but we are still protesting at the company owned pumps. Next our call was to boycott Jio cellular service as part of which farmers ported out their numbers and have now disconnected the power supply to mobile towers,” said Kokrikalan.

Later in the day, some farmer unions decided not to disconnect the power supply to mobile towers given that it is examination time in schools and children are attending the classes online.

Jagmohan Singh Patiala, working group member of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, said, “We had given a call to boycott Jio, but many farmers started disconnecting power connection to mobile towers on their own. We have found that many towers are shared by multiple telecom companies and even online exams are going on. On Friday, this issue will be raised in the meeting of Samyukt Kisan Morcha at Singhu border. Our teams in the field are also conducting surveys to find independent towers of Jio. Hence, our target will be only such independent towers of this company. We will again issue appeals to masses to port out their numbers from Jio to other service providers”.

Jio Telecommunications refused to comment till the time of filing of this report. The Indian Express also contacted A Venuprasad, CMD, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to inquire whether the powercom knows about farmers’ plans. He too did not respond to the query.

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