On Thursday (May 20), the Haryana government directed the police and the district magistrates to ensure the protection of the telecom infrastructure in the State. The development comes after miscreants, falsely believing that it might cause Coronavirus infection, destroyed several 5g mobile towers.
In an order issued by Haryana Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan, he said, “As you might be aware, misinformation attributing the fatalities and health problems being faced by people due to COVIOD-19 virus, is being attributed to the testing of 5G Towers. This has led to some incidents in the State resulting in mobile towers/network being damaged by some misguided elements.”
The order cited the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organisations to clarify that Coronavirus cannot travel via radio waves and mobile networks. It added, “The Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Gol in its press statement dated 10.5.2021 has clarified that linking the 5G network technology with COVID-19 pandemic has no scientific basis. Besides, the testing of the 5G network has not yet started in India.” The Haryana Chief Secretary reiterated that the claims are baseless and ‘devoid of merit.’
Keeping the circumstances in mind and the damage caused to several mobile towers, Vijai Vardhan directed all SPs, SSPs, and district magistrates to ‘safeguard’ telecom towers and infrastructure in the district. The law enforcement officials have been asked to take stringent actions against miscreants involved in rumour-mongering.
According to Taipa (Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association) senior manager Rahul Dhall, four towers were damaged in the past 10 days in Rohtak and Jind. He added that around 15-20 towers operating in the rural areas are under the threat of being vandalised. This has resulted in massive inconvenience for telecom service providers in ensuring the maintenance and operation of existing towers. Besides, the installation of new towers is now being met with increasing resistance from people due to a large-scale misleading campaign.
Taipa Director-general, TR DUA lamented that incidents of vandalism can impact telecom connectivity if they are not brought under control immediately. Telecom connectivity is crucial amidst the Coronavirus pandemic to be able to facilitate virtual meetings, e-health, e-education and e-commerce. Even the government’s vaccination programme might be affected if such incidents go unabated.
Jio towers vandalised, looted by farmer protestors in Punjab
In the wake of farmer protests, thousands of Jio towers were vandalised and looted. Earlier, videos of ‘protesting farmers‘ stealing a generator from a tower and ‘donating’ it to a Gurudwara had also gone viral on social media. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had to step in, who then directed police to act against Jio tower vandals in Punjab. The directions came hours after the Youth Congress leader instigated more acts of vandalism. Reliance Industries Limited, through its subsidiary Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, was forced to file a petition in the Punjab & Haryana High Court to stop damage to its property.