146 more mobile towers hit in Punjab, CM issues stern warning

Chandigarh, Dec 29 (IANS) Of the 1,561 mobile towers affected over the past few days owing to farmers’ agitations in Punjab against the contentious three central farm laws, 146 were impacted in Monday due to disruption of power supply to 32 towers that led to the disconnection of services of the remaining 114.
So far, 433 towers have been repaired, a state government spokesperson said.
The state has a total of 21,306 mobile towers spread across its 22 districts.
Issuing a stern warning, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the vandalisation of mobile towers and disruption of telecom services won’t be allowed and directed the police to take strict action against all those resorting to such unlawful activities.
Making it clear that he will not tolerate destruction of any private or public property in Punjab, he said he was forced to toughen his stance as his repeated appeals to perpetrators of such acts had been ignored.
The Chief Minister asserted that he will not let Punjab plunge into anarchy at any cost and nobody can be allowed to take law into their hands.
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, he said damage to property and inconvenience to the citizens could not, however, be endured.
The Chief Minister’s warning came as the total number of mobile towers impacted in the state went up to 1,561, of which 25 had been physically damaged, allegedly by some farmers and their supporters in violation of the directions of the farmer unions to keep their protests against the farm laws peaceful.
Calling upon farmers and their supporters to put an immediate stop to such destructive activities, which were being disowned by farmer leaders themselves, the Chief Minister said disruption of telecom services could lead to a communications blackout in the state, causing its people, especially students and working professionals, to suffer serious consequences.
With examinations, especially board exams, nearing and students dependent on online education amid the Covid-19 pandemic, such communication breakdown could seriously affect their future, he said.
The Chief Minister said his government had already distributed 1.75 lakh smartphones to Class 12 students to equip them for the board exams, but the vandalisation of telecom property was hampering the students.
Professionals working from home, with many of them having come to the state during the pandemic, could lose their jobs due to such acts of violence and damage to property, he noted.
Even banking services, which were also largely dependent on online transactions in these times of crisis, were taking a major hit due to these unlawful acts, he added.
The farmers’ agitation had so far been successful and had garnered the support of people from all sections of 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.
While his government’s sympathies were with the agitating farmers, which were why it had also brought in state amendment Bills in the Vidhan Sabha to negate the central government’s legislations, nobody could be allowed to take law and order in their hands, said Amarinder Singh.

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