As a fallout of the agrarian crisis due to the contentious farm laws and outburst against the corporate houses, mobile towers of a leading private telecom operator have been targeted in various parts of the state for the past few days.
While power supply has been snapped in most of the cases, reports of damage to the DG (digital generating) units and theft of batteries have surfaced from across the state.
This has led to disruption of Internet services, causing inconvenience to thousands of professionals, students studying online at homes, doctors, patients receiving medical consultations, government circuits and emergency helpline numbers.
Ironically, there has been no call from the farm unions to cause damage in retaliation to the properties or any infrastructure set up by the corporate houses in the state.
Gurnam Singh Charuni, BKU (Charuni) president, had appealed to farmers not to shut down or damage the mobile towers as any such activity would cause inconvenience to the public and would weaken the farm agitation if social media messages put up by miscreants triggered a ruckus.
An official of the telecom firm, preferring anonymity, said there must be around 9,000 mobile towers set up in Punjab, of which at least 600 had been damaged. “As telecom is a part of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, we request our farmer brothers not to damage or cut power supply to towers,” he said.
In Amritsar, of around 980 towers established by the firm, the three-phase power supply to at least 50-60 towers was disrupted in the past three days.
“Working from home, we are highly dependent on the Internet. Our work is suffering a lot and our jobs are at risk,” said an IT professional.
Nonetheless, the towers installed in the rural border belt of Majha region, including Attari, Ajnala, Patti, Chawinda Devi, Bhikiwind, Baba Bakala, Ranike, Khadoor Sahib, Jhabal, were affected.
In Ferozepur, the farm union activists on Thursday forcibly snapped power supply to another eight mobile towers situated at various locations. The power supply to mobile towers was snapped at Peer Mohammed village, Chakkiya, Sheehanpuri, Behak Pacharian, Kohala, Fatttewala, Chuchakwind in Makhu, Zira and Mallanwala blocks of the district. Another group of farmers snapped power supply to the mobile tower in Chak Bhangewala village in Mamdot.
Similar reports of disruption in the service came from Balachaur in Nawanshahr. In all, four towers at Jandiala and three in the Shahkot, Nakodar belt in Jalandhar were damaged in the Jalandhar region.
While the service of three towers was snapped by farmers at Jandiala Manjki village, one tower put up at the panchayat ghar of Samrai village was also closed by the members of the BKU (Rajewal). Members of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee also made three towers defunct at Shahkot, Lohian and Mallian Khurd villages.
The villages that are worst-affected in Bathinda include Natheha, Nangla, Bangi Ruldu, Kalalwala, Pathrala and Gurthari. The villages where the tower sites were vandalised in Malaut included Bhai Khera, Phullu Khera, Fatehpur Manianwala, Raniwala, Panjwa, Mehna, Ghumiara, Shamkhera, Jandwala Charat Singh, Danewala and Sarawan Bolda villages.
In Makhu also, members of the BKU (Rajowal) and BKU (Krantikari) switched off the tower of the telecom company.
Courtesy: The Tribune