After months of continuous farmer agitation in northern India following the tabling of the three Farm Bills, Reliance Industries, which has come in for particular criticism from the farmers, has issued a statement saying it has "nothing to do" with the new laws and "does not benefit from them" in any way.
It further clarified that neither Reliance Retail nor Reliance Jio nor any other affiliate of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has done "any 'corporate' or 'contract' farming in the past, and has absolutely no plans to enter this business".
"Neither Reliance nor any of our subsidiaries has purchased any agricultural land, directly or indirectly, in Punjab/Haryana or anywhere else in India, for the purpose of “corporate” or “contract” farming. We have absolutely no plans to do so. Reliance does not purchase any food grains directly from farmers. It has never entered into long-term procurement contracts to gain unfair advantage over farmers or sought that its suppliers buy from farmers at less than remunerative prices, nor will it ever do so," the company stated.
The $200-billion corporation also said that it believes in "building a strong and equal partnership with Indian farmers" who it called the 'annadatas' of 1.3 billion Indians.
This comes within weeks of farmers vandalising Reliance Jio towers in northern India claiming that the Farm Laws stand to benefit India's largest public corporation, which is increasingly stepping up its presence in the food and grocery segment.
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Reliance had earlier claimed that its rivals Vi and Airtel have carried out aggressive marketing campaigns to fan the farmer frenzy and port customers to their networks riding on the anti-Jio sentiment. Both telcos have called RIL's claims "baseless".
The Mukesh Ambani-owned company, however, plans to file a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today, and has also "sought urgent intervention of government authorities to bring a complete stop to the illegal acts of vandalism by miscreants".
"These acts of violence have endangered the lives of thousands of our employees and caused damage and disruption to the vital communications infrastructure, sales and service outlets run by our subsidiaries in the two states," Reliance said.
"The miscreants indulging in vandalism have been instigated and aided by vested interests and our business rivals. Taking advantage of the ongoing farmers’ agitation near the national capital, these vested interests have launched an incessant, malicious and motivated vilification campaign against Reliance, which has absolutely no basis in truth," it added.
Reliance also announced its "full support" for Indian farmers who aspire to get a "fair and profitable price on a predictable basis for what they produce".
"Indeed, we shall insist on our suppliers to strictly abide by the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism, and/or any other mechanism for remunerative price for farm produce, as may be determined and implemented by the government," it stated.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai
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