Thousands of farmers are joining the protests across India, and their sentiment towards corporate mammoths like Reliance have soured. Over the weekend, the farmers’ calls to boycott Ambani’s Reliance Jio telecoms became more vocal.
Amid the chaos, Jio has reached out to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), accusing its rival telcos – Airtel and Vodafone-Idea (which recently re-branded to “Vi” in India) of capitalising on the farmer protests and inviting Jio users to switch their mobile numbers to their respective brands – as a sign of support for the farmers. TRAI is a statutory body set up by the Indian government to regulate the telecommunications sector.
Jio’s letter to TRAI came after retailers in several regions around Delhi, including Faridabad, Bahadurgarh, Chandigarh and Firozpur, among others, witnessed an increase in customers porting out of Reliance Jio and joining either Vi or Airtel, the Economic Times reported.
In the written complaint, Jio said that its rival telcos “remain directly/indirectly involved in supporting and furthering the insinuations and false and frivolous rumours of Reliance being an undue beneficiary of the farm laws, for unethical pecuniary benefits in the form of induced porting of RJIL customers”.
The Mumbai-headquartered company also went on to accuse Vi and Airtel of staying “unabated in pursuing this vicious and divisive campaign through its employees, agents and retailers”.
Requesting a strict action against such “false propagandas”, Jio attached pictures of “misleading and inciteful campaign” across Punjab and other northern states.
While no official statement from TRAI on Jio’s complaint been released on public domains as of now, memers on social media are adding fuel to the fire, worsening tensions among leading Indian telcos. With over 26,000 tweets #BoycottJioSim is trending on Twitter.
The farmers, who have been protesting on the outskirts of Delhi since 26 November, are adamant about seeking the complete rollback of the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The laws were passed in September during the monsoon session of the Parliament.
Battling the cold, sometimes rainy weather, thousands of farmers have trekked to Delhi to demonstrate against the laws. They have accused the government of backing out from its perceived role of price guarantor and believe their earnings are threatened by market forces.