A group of Opposition leaders were on Thursday stopped by the police from meeting the farmers protesting at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border at Ghazipur, ANI reported.
Around 15 leaders from 10 Opposition parties headed to the protest site to get a first-hand account of the conditions there. The leaders included Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Supriya Sule from the Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP Kanimozhi and Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy.
Badal expressed anger over the barricading at the protest site. “Saw first hand the conditions created at Ghazipur border,” she tweeted. “Shocked to see the treatment being meted out to the annadaata [farmers]. Farmers are barricaded behind fortress like concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing. Even ambulances and fire brigades cannot enter the protest site.”
The Akali Dal leader told NDTV that the MPs were not being allowed to raise the matter of the crackdown on the farmers’ protest in the Parliament. “Even in prison one gets food, water, electricity,” she said. “Here it’s as if giving the protesting farmers slow death.”
Meanwhile, Sule urged the government to engage with the farmers and ensure that their demands are met. However, the leaders went back as they were not allowed to cross the barricades and reach the protest site.
The Opposition has been demanding the repeal of the three farming laws during the Parliament’s Budget session. Over the last few days, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have seen multiple adjournments because of the Opposition’s protests.
However on Wednesday, Centre and the Opposition agreed on a 15-hour discussion on the farm laws in the Rajya Sabha, where the Question Hour has been suspended for two days.
Opposition leaders have severely criticised the Centre for the crackdown on the farmers’ protest after the violence at the Republic Day tractor rally. Heavy security has been deployed at the three protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri.
The Delhi Police has also tried block access to farmers’ protest sites at the borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping concrete barricades with razor wire. Internet services around the border have been suspended too.
The crackdown on the farmers’ peaceful agitation has also sparked international outrage. Pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg are among those who have expressed support for the farmers.
Meanwhile, the Centre tried to counter the global attention to the farmers’ protest on social media by coining its own hashtags. Several celebrities and ministers tweeted on Wednesday using the hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether.