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Action will be taken against those spreading rumours linking 5G and COVID: Haryana

After some miscreants damaged mobile network towers in Haryana attributing COVID-19 fatalities to the testing of 5G towers, Haryana Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan asked the police on Thursday to “safeguard telecom infrastructure” and “take strict, coercive, and immediate action against any miscreant spreading such misleading rumours.”

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has clarified that such rumours are misplaced as viruses cannot travel on radio wave/mobile network. Other concerned organisations have also debunked such claims. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), GoI in its press statement dated 10.5.2021, has clarified that linking 5G network technology with the COVID-19 pandemic has no scientific basis. Besides, the testing of 5G network has not yet started in India. Hence, the apprehension that 5G trials/networks are causing coronavirus in India is baseless and devoid of any merit.” – Haryana Chief Secretary Vijai Vardhan in the order

TAIPA writes to the chief secretary: The order comes a day after the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) wrote to the chief secretary highlighting the rumours on social media linking the spread of Covid-19 with telecom networks and 5G network testing, Times of India (TOI) reported.

TAIPA senior manager Rahul Dhall told TOI that four towers were damaged in the last ten days, especially in the districts of Jind and Rohtak in Haryana. TAIPA also said that these rumours were resulting in protests against the installation of telecom towers.

“Such incidents, if not brought under control, may significantly impact the telecom connectivity at large and deprive the general public/government bodies of getting uninterrupted telecom services at a crucial junction of COVID 19,” T R Dua, Director-General, TAIPA said in the letter.

COAI writes to the chief secretary: The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), representing the three biggest networks in the country: Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, also wrote to the chief secretary asking him to issue a statement debunking the misinformation and take coercive action against miscreants.

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In the letter dated 15 May 2020, COAI said that “these types of rumours have spread over the past two weeks, mainly in semi-urban and rural areas. There has been a rise in such misinformation in the state of Haryana. There are a number of incidences wherein in the state of Haryana the farmer groups are getting agitated due to this myth of linking the COVID-19 pandemic with the 5G services being spread by some miscreants.”

COAI clarified to the chief secretary that “such misinformation/rumours being spread are baseless and there is no evidence or facts to suggest that there is any harmful effect of the 5G services w.r.t COVID-19.”

COAI approaches IT ministry: COAI requested the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on 15 May to remove fake messages from social media platforms linking the spread of COVID-19 to 5G. A rise in such rumours has been seen in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Punjab, COAI stated.

“To safeguard the national interest, we request your good office to kindly instruct all social media platforms such Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc, to remove all such posts and misleading campaigns from their platforms on an urgent basis,” SP Kochhar, COAI director-general, wrote in the letter. COAI further added that 5G networks have not been installed in the country 5G trails are yet to begin.

“We would like to clarify that these rumours are absolutely FALSE. We urge people not to fall for such baseless misinformation. Several countries in the world have already rolled out 5G networks and people are using these services safely.” SP Kochhar said in a separate press release dated May 7, 2021.

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