Amid reports that power supply to mobile towers was being disconnected by protesting farmers in different parts of the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday appealed to them to not inconvenience the general public with such actions.
He urged them to exercise the same restraint that they had been showing over the past several months and said that telecom connectivity had become even more critical for people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chief minister said the farmers protesting against the Centre's new farm laws should show the same discipline and sense of responsibility which they had been exercising during their protest at the Delhi border, which completed one month, and also earlier during their agitation in the state.
Singh's appeal came in the wake of a request from the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA), a registered body of telecom infrastructure providers, asking the state government to persuade farmers not to resort to any unlawful activity in their fight for justice, a state government statement said here.
There were reports that farmers at various places in Punjab, including Mansa, Barnala, Ferozepur and Moga, were disconnecting the power supply to mobile towers of a particular telecom operator during the past few days, disrupting their services.
Urging farmers not to take the law into their hands by forcibly shutting down telecom connectivity or manhandling employees and technicians of telecom service providers, the chief minister said such actions were not in the interest of Punjab and its future.
Singh, in a statement here, said the people of Punjab were standing with farmers in their fight against the "black farm laws and will continue to do so".
He requested the farmers to reciprocate by ensuring that the battle for justice does not cause any problems for the people of the state.
"Forceful disruption of telecom services due to snapping of power supply to mobile towers by farmers in several parts of the state is not only adversely affecting the studies and future prospects of students, who are dependent entirely on online education, but also hampering the daily life of people working from home due to the pandemic," Singh said.
"Further, the disruption of telecom services would also seriously affect the state's already disturbed economy," the chief minister said, exhorting the farmers to continue with their peaceful protests without causing any inconvenience to the citizens of Punjab.
Singh pointed out that the prolonged economic crisis, which would be aggravated as a result of telecom service disruption in the state, would have a trigger-effect on the agriculture sector, as well as the farming community too.
The effects would be detrimental to all sections, he said, adding that such actions would adversely impact his government's efforts to attract more investment in the telecom sector which is a part of its recently announced new telecom guidelines 2020 that also aims at improving telecom connectivity in the state.
"In the wake of COVID-19, the urgency of these guidelines was felt seriously as there was a dire need to improve connectivity through easing Right of Way permissions for overground and underground telecom infrastructures.
"The guidelines were expected to give a quantum jump to the telecom and internet connectivity in the state," he said.