In the midst of the growing concern over the vandalism of 2,000 cellphone towers of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the state police extended its control over several districts to restore the power supply of the towers. Although the company sources informed that apart from the 2,000 towers, several base transceiver stations and fiber optic cables have also been vandalised, police officials said that in most cases, the damage caused was very minimal.
On December 29, a day after giving a serious warning, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, "I have directed police to take action against those vandalising the mobile towers. I will not allow anyone to take law in their hands. The situation is under control now," reported The Indian Express.
The Chief Minister also mentioned that although only 4-5 cases of vandalisation came forward in the last 24 hours, the government was taking note of all the incidents.
The police are yet to register an FIR of these cases. Several videos and photographs of youngsters, climbing up the towers, have been shared on social media as well. The district police chiefs have also been patrolling around the towers to guard them and to help restore the functioning of the towers.
Some of the affected districts include- Nawanshar, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar, Batala, Kapurthala, Amritsar, Bathinda, Mansa, Hoshiarpur, and Ferozepur. Sources have also said that senior Jio executives have met senior government and police officials in the state to discuss the protection of these towers.
"Some of our executives on the ground were forced to go back when they went to repair the vandalised mobile tower sites. We have apprised the officials of the situation and sought protection since telecom comes under essential services," said one of the persons who attended the meeting.
"There is a lot of disquiet in the government over this disruption, particularly in light of the continued stalemate between the Centre and the protesting farmers. No one in the state wants the situation to get out of hand," said a senior official.
By vandalising the towers, the immediate effect could be felt on the voice calls. Jio uses VoLTE, also known as, Voice over Long Term Evolution technology. This means that the voice calls are treated like the 'data packets'. However, due to the disruption of the towers, the internet data speed, and the quality of the calls is likely to be affected.
On the other hand, farmer leaders have appealed their workers to not damage any property. However, they also mentioned that they won't tolerate any case of vandalism being registered against them.
President of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda faction), Buta Singh Burjgill said, "I repeat yet again, our focus should only be on boycotting Jio SIMs. Don't resort to any violent means, don't even snap power. However, if police lodge an FIR, we will support our villagers.''