China and Pakistan ISI’s involvement in damaging communication towers in Punjab cannot be ruled out. More than 1,500 telecom communication towers of Jio have been damaged in Punjab in the last few days. The basic reason for taking law in their own hands by certain anti-social elements is the recently introduced three farm laws. There are some rumours and perception that these farm laws are likely to benefit bigger corporate houses like Ambani and Adani Groups. But they are unaware that Ambani and Adani are in no way involved in the business of procurement and storage of food grains. In fact, by damaging communication towers the protesters are not only damaging national property but also creating inconvenience to the public at large. It’s Jio which has revolutionised the Internet and communication sector and forced even other players like Airtel, Vodafone and even BSNL to drastically reduce the prices and make communication including net affordable to the common man. It has not only hurt domestic players but even foreign players including China.
It is also a proven fact that China is trying its best to induct Huawei in most of the countries in the world. However, a number of countries have now denied or delayed permissions to Huawei due to security reasons and China’s involvement in spreading Covid-19 world over. Of late, due to standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh, India has shown no interest in Huawei due to its unfair business practices and Security reasons. In fact, Jio is already working and is likely to bring 5G technology in India. Huawei is feeling threatened by Jio in getting 5G technology and introducing it in India, which is one of the biggest communication markets with 60 to 70 crore of population having access to smartphones. China doesn’t want to lose such a lucrative market. Jio is capable of introducing 5G technology in India at a more competent rate and better terms and conditions. To get a 5G contract by Huawei and demoralise Jio, the sole Indian competitor.
China can go to any extent. Therefore, China’s hand along with its proxy Pakistan ISI cannot be ruled out in damaging more than 1,500 Jio towers in Punjab. The state government should take stern action against such anti-social elements and restore the confidence of the public. Even partial interruption of telecommunication and the Internet is going to have an adverse effect on a large population including students who are dependent on the Internet for their online classes. The state government must act fast and restore normalcy including taking suitable action against defaulters and anti-social elements.
Maj Gen Ashwani Siwach is a former Head of Territorial Army. The views expressed are personal.