The farmers’ protest was the primary reason behind the spread of the Coronavirus in Punjab and Haryana is a well-known fact. But, in the villages of Harayana, misinformation is being spread that telecommunication towers are emitting Coronavirus and 5G testing is the primary reason behind the pandemic.
“Misinformation attributing the Covid-19 fatalities to the testing of 5G towers is doing the rounds. This has led to damage to mobile towers by misguided elements,” state chief secretary Vijai Vardhan said in his communication to the DCs and SSPs on Thursday.
The chief secretary has also told the district administrators to take strict coercive action against those spreading rumours on 5G. “Take strict, coercive and immediate action against any miscreant spreading such misleading rumours,” the chief secretary said.
Since last November, when the scars of the first Corona wave were still afresh, the farmers in the state of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh have been protesting the farm laws. Despite repeated calls from the Union government to talk over the issues and call off the protest, the tamasha is going on, even during the deadly second wave.
The farmers’ protest has become a super-spreader event in these states, and this has led to the spread of the virus in rural areas. Moreover, the fatality rate in these states, especially in Punjab – the epicentre of protest – is much higher compared to the rest of the country.
As Covid spreads in the rural areas of Haryana, the Khattar government is trying to minimize the damage with a manifold increase in door-to-door testing and augmentation of medical infrastructure. The stupid protesters are posing an additional burden on the government at a time when its hands are already full.
However, the farmers are now trying to harm the industry and spreading rumours that 5G testing is the cause of Corona and the towers are spreading Coronavirus. Previously, months ago when the farmer’s protest was at its peak, the farmers destroyed many of Reliance Jio towers in protest against the Modi government.
The misinformation is leading to threats to mobile towers and in many places, people tried to destory either the towers or harm the people operating them. “The impact of this misleading campaign has led the telecom infrastructure providers to face huge issues in the operation and maintenance of existing telecom towers and installation of new telecom towers due to the increasing resistance from the miscreant elements,” said Rahul Dhall, Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (Taipa).
T R Dua, director general of Taipa, said, “Such incidents, if not brought under control, may significantly impact the telecom connectivity at large and deprive the general public/government bodies from getting uninterrupted telecom services at crucial junction of Covid-19 when telecom and internet connectivity are essential for enabling work from home, virtual meetings, e-commerce, e-education, e-health and various other initiatives of the government including the vaccination which requires technology and connectivity support for various purposes.”
The farmer’s protest has already caused the loss of thousands of crores to the exchequer and thus, the government. Now, the protestors are also causing crores of rupees to industry and telecom infrastructure. The government must intervene proactively and punish those who are causing loss of thousands of crores of rupees to the public exchequer as well as industry.