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Opinion

Punjab investigates whether protesting farmers sabotaged telecom infrastructure

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Authorities in northern India’s Punjab state are investigating whether protesting farmers were disrupting power supplies to hundreds of telecommunication towers, a state official said on Monday, amid ongoing protests against the new and controversial agricultural laws.

“We have told the police to track down everyone involved in the sabotage of infrastructure,” a senior Punjab state government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

A senior Punjab state police official said power was cut off at several telecommunications towers in the state, mainly those owned by Jio, the telecommunications arm of Reliance Industries.

Jio could not immediately be reached for comment.

Representatives of two of the 31 farmers’ unions protesting the laws rejected the accusations when contacted by Reuters. They asked to remain unidentified pending a formal statement from all unions.

Tens of thousands of farmers continue to camp on roads near the capital, New Delhi, protesting against three new laws implemented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that they fear will dismantle regulated agricultural markets, threaten their livelihoods and benefit big business. .

But Modi and his cabinet ministers say the laws would increase farmers’ incomes as they link potential bulk buyers, such as WalMart Inc, Reliance Industries Ltd, and Adani Enterprises Ltd, directly to farmers, bypassing the markets. wholesalers and commission agents.

The Punjab state government opposes the new farm laws, and a seventh round of talks between farmers’ unions and federal government officials is scheduled for Tuesday.

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