Protesting Farmers Target India’s Largest Cell Company and Its Billionaire Owner

NEW DELHI—More than 2,000 cell towers in northern India have been damaged, as a backlash over the deregulation of the nation’s agricultural industry has led to a showdown between farmers and India’s wealthiest businessman.

The businessman,

Mukesh Ambani,


Reliance Industries Ltd.

The company, along with local authorities, says vandals showing support for a protest that has blocked the roads into New Delhi for more than a month are responsible for damaging the cell towers.

Reliance controls India’s biggest cellular company and its largest retailer, including some of the country’s largest grocery-store chains. Those chains are expected to benefit from a new law that deregulates the farming industry to allow more private-sector control of distribution. Mr. Ambani, worth around $75 billion according to Forbes magazine, is seen as close to Prime Minister

Narendra Modi,

who is backing the new law. He is one of the most influential corporate leaders in

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