Farmers protesting against the Centre's contentious new farm laws have allegedly damaged more than 1,500 of Reliance Jio's 9,000 telecom towers in Punjab, reported NDTV.
Reliance Jio's service has been disrupted in many parts of the state. NDTV quoted a representative from the telecom company saying that the towers have taken a hit "due to physical damage, power disruption or theft of generator".
According to a PTI report, a total of 1,561 mobile towers have been impacted in the state. Out of the total towers impacted, 25 had been damaged, allegedly by some farmers and their supporters in violation of the directions given by farmers' unions to keep their protests against the farm laws peaceful.
Since Monday morning there was a disruption of power supply to 32 towers, which led to the disconnection of services of the remaining 114. So far, 433 towers have been repaired, the report added.
Reportedly, bundles of Jio's fibre cable was burnt in Jalandhar and employees of the company have been threatened.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed police to take strict action against vandalisation of mobile towers and disruption of telecom services in the state.
Asserting that he will not let Punjab plunge into an anarchy at any cost and nobody can be allowed to take the law into their hands, the Chief Minister said he has been forced to toughen his stance as his repeated appeals to perpetrators of such acts had been ignored.
Pointing out that his government had not objected to, or stopped, peaceful protests in the state against the Centre's "black farm laws" for the past several months, Singh said in a statement that damage to property and inconvenience to the citizens could not, however, be endured.
"The farmers' agitation had so far been successful and had garnered the support of people from all sections of the society and across the country due to its peaceful nature," said the Chief Minister, warning that use of violence could alienate the protestors from the masses which would be detrimental to the interests of the farming community.
(With PTI inputs)