Jio accuses Airtel and VIL of inciting farmer protestors
After Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio‘s allegations that rival Telcom companies were inciting and provoking agitators involved in tower disruption, Sunil Mittal-headed Airtel has shot-off a letter to the Telecom department slamming the charges as baseless and outrageous. Airtel has told the Department of Telecom (DoT) that Jio’s allegations against it did not demonstrate any evidence that Bharti Airtel had any hand in the ongoing issues that the company is facing, and that the complaint should be dismissed “with the contempt that it deserves.”
The letter by Airtel to Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said the company is aware of a complaint made by Reliance Jio to the department dated December 28, in reference to the disruption of RJIL (Reliance Jio) services due to farmer’s protests in Punjab and Haryana. Airtel said that a similar allegation had been levelled by Jio in a letter to the telecom regulator earlier in December to which the company had responded.
Airtel added that Jio’s complaint does not bear any evidence that Airtel has any hand in the ongoing issues that Jio is facing.
For the past two weeks in Punjab alone, Jio’s more than 1500 telecom towers were destroyed by farmers’ protest. Farmer protestors first urged a boycott of Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani products which ultimately turned into a rampant attack on the telecom towers of Reliance Jio in Punjab, which is the strong terrain of Airtel owner Sunil Mittal.
“The baseless allegation made by Jio that Airtel is behind the farmer agitation to ‘sabotage’ their network and to force customers to switch to Airtel is therefore simply outrageous,” Bharti Airtel’s Chief Regulatory Officer Rahul Vatts said in the letter to the DoT dated December 28. Airtel added that Jio’s complaint does not bear any evidence that Airtel has any hand in the ongoing issues that Jio is facing.
“In fact, we are amused as to how Jio can even believe that Airtel would be so omnipotent as to make customers forcibly point out Jio. If we had this power, we would have exercised it over the last three years when Jio amassed a massive number of customers,” Airtel said.
Jio’s letter to the DoT had claimed that “the majority of the current sabotage and damage of RJIL network in Punjab, Haryana and some other parts of the country is as a result of the blatant efforts by some of the distributors, retailer and channel partners of Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) in a malicious and inciteful campaign to capitalise on the ongoing farmers protest.”
Airtel said in its letter to the DoT. Airtel said that it has operated in the telecom industry for 25 years, during which it had competed hard in the market place to serve customers with excellence.
Jio had said the target of the campaign was to disrupt its services and leverage these disruptions to promote mobile number portability to other networks. Jio has said in its letter that “the evidences clearly and unimpeachably demonstrate the direct involvement of channel partners of Airtel and VIL in these disruptions as well as Airtel and VIL’s ineffectiveness in controlling them.”
Meanwhile, rubbishing the charges levelled against it, Airtel said Jio’s complaint against the company was “in poor taste” and urged the telecom department to dismiss this complaint “with the contempt that it deserves.”
“We have seen a history of Jio going to any length to make baseless allegations, adopt bullying tactics and use intimidatory behaviour to suit their purposes and meet their goals. This is another such instance,” Airtel said in its letter to the DoT. Airtel said that it has operated in the telecom industry for 25 years, during which it had competed hard in the market place to serve customers with excellence. The telecom firm asserted that it has always conducted business with character and transparency.
“The irony of the situation is that while the operating teams were having several conversations over the last few days on how to provide support to the Jio teams based on their request, Jio was actually spending time drafting frivolous letters and making scurrilous allegations,” Airtel said.
[with PTI inputs]