Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is set to move the Punjab & Haryana High Court seeking urgent intervention of governmen authorities to stop the vandalism of Jio mobile towers by protesters agitating against the Centre's new farm laws.
According to reports, over 1600 Reliance Jio mobile towers have been damaged in Punjab the past few weeks as farm protests have intensified.
In a petition to be filed in Punjab & Haryana High Court today, Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, has sought urgent intervention of Govt authorities to bring a complete stop to illegal acts of vandalism by miscreants, RIL said in a statement.
"These acts of violence have endangered the lives of thousands of employees & caused damage & disruption to the vital communications infrastructure. The miscreants indulging in vandalism have been instigated & aided by vested interests & our business rivals," the Mukesh Ambani-led company said.
Reliance alleged that the miscreants indulging in vandalism have been instigated and aided by vested interests and our business rivals.
"Taking advantage of the ongoing farmers’ agitation near the national capital, these vested interests have launched an incessant, malicious and motivated vilification campaign against Reliance, which has absolutely no basis in truth," it said.
Reliance Retail Limited (RRL), Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL), or any other affiliate of our parent company have not done any “corporate” or “contract” farming in the past, and have absolutely no plans to enter this business, it further added.
"Reliance and its affiliates fully share and support the aspiration of Indian farmers to get a fair and profitable price on a predictable basis for what they produce with exemplary hard work, innovation and dedication. Reliance seeks significant augmentation of their incomes on a sustainable basis, and pledges to work towards this goal. Indeed, we shall insist on our suppliers to strictly abide by the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism, and/or any other mechanism for remunerative price for farm produce, as may be determined and implemented by the government," the RIL statement said.
It claimed that far from hurting the interests of Indian farmers, the businesses of Reliance have actually benefited them and the Indian public at large.
Earlier last week, Reliance Jio Infocomm had written to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) seeking their intervention into "incidents of sabotage and vandalism at Jio Network sites" in the state by unknown persons.
The letter alleged that police personnel at local level are not taking action or filing FIRs against vandalsism and that is why such incidents are not stopping. Jio has requested the DGP to take action.
Punjab Governor Vijayender Pal Singh Badnore on Wednesday took a serious note of the vandalism and summoned Punjab's Chief Secretary and DGP to Raj Bhavan to seek a report.
Power supply to towers belonging to Reliance Jio was snapped and cables cut in parts of the state as farmers vented their anger on the infrastructure owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's firm as they saw him along with infrastructure tycoon Gautam Adani as major beneficiaries of the three new farm laws.
Neither Ambani's Reliance group nor Adani's companies are in the business of procuring food grains from farmers.
The masts damaged were in places such as Amritsar, Bhatinda, Chandigarh, Firozpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Patiala and Sangrur, the sources said.
Jio has 9,000 plus towers in the state.
Hundreds of farmers have been protesting at Delhi borders for over a month now against the three farm laws, which they see would end the minimum support price (MSP) based procurement of farm produce like wheat and paddy.
The government has denied the apprehensions, saying MSP will continue and the new laws only provide farmers an alternative market to sell their produce.
Another round of talks to break the deadlock are scheduled to be held on Monday.