New Delhi: They have been sitting at the various borders around Delhi protesting against the three newly-implemented farm laws. The farmers have been protesting for more than a month now wanting a repeal of the laws. As their protests intensify against the government, the farmers have also got involved in a battle of a different kind. This is a battle against Ambani and Adani.
For those who have been visiting the border areas on a regular basis, a new sight is there to behold. At the Singhu border on the National Highway-44 teeming with protestors, stalls of mobile operators Airtel and Vodafone-Idea have sprung up. They are cashing in on farmers rushing to change their mobile operator from Jio to Airtel and Vodafone-Idea. Most farmers are using the portability option. It helps them to retain the same number while switching to a different network.
This was a move that first started in various districts of Punjab. However, the move to desert Jio connections has spread across the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh too. So many such Airtel and Vodafone-Idea makeshift stalls have come up at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders. In the various districts of Punjab, special camps are being organised by the mobile operators. They are offering sops to people to switch from Jio sims to Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and other mobile companies.
The farmers are doing this simply because they are angry against Mukesh Ambani’s and Gautam Adani’s conglomerates. They feel that the new farm laws have been made to benefit the two industrial groups.
Amanbir Singh is a driver from Sultanwind in Amritsar currently camping at the Singhu border. He said that as a protest against the three farm laws, he too has decided to switch to another operator from Jio.
“Jo sadi zameen te nazar rakhi baitha, oh sada ki lageya? (One who has his eyes on our lands, what relation do I share with him?) We will fight this government tooth and nail,” Amanbir has been quoted as saying the ‘The Print’.
Ashok Dahiya is another farmer from Hisar in Haryana who has joined the movement. He said that he and others have been asking people to boycott Reliance and Adani products.
An Airtel official said that they have built the stalls because of the customers’ demand.
“On an average around 500 to 600 people have been getting their Jio sims ported to Airtel, Idea and Vodafone every day. As farmers are sitting on protest, it is not feasible for them to visit local shops to get their mobile sims ported, hence the decision to put up stalls here,” the official was quoted as saying by ‘The Print’.
Two young Punjabu boys, Tajinder Singh and his cousin Manpreet Singh have also joined the move to boycott Jio. They both said that it is their way of showing support to the farmers’ protests. They were quick to visit an Airtel stall to change their Jio sim.
Another Airtel official said that farmers ‘are coming on their own. We have not gone anywhere to tell them to visit our stalls’.
Kisan Ekta Morcha IT wing head Baljeet Singh is credited with the setting up of a special IT cell for farmers. It has been done to counter BJP IT wing’s fake news propaganda against farmers protest. Baljeet said the move to switch over from Jio sims to other mobile operators started a week back.
“That’s when these mobile company stalls were put up here. Till date over 1.50 lakh Jio sims have been ported to Airtel, Idea and Vodafone at protest sites. The campaign is getting a thumping response through social media and by word of mouth. We are glad that people are coming on their own to express solidarity with farmers,” he has been quoted as saying by the same website.
Kisan Ekta Manch volunteers have also been posting similar videos calling for the boycott of Reliance products through its social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp and webinars.