Opposition parties liken use of tear gas, water cannons on agitating farmers to 'waging war'

New Delhi: Alleging that the Central farm laws "threatened" India's food security, several opposition parties on Saturday likened attempts by the police to stop the farmers' march towards Delhi by using tear gas, water cannons and by digging up roads to "repression" and "waging a war".

In a joint statement, leaders of eight opposition parties extended their support to the farmers who are protesting the three farm laws.

These leaders are NCP chief Sharad Pawar, DMK's T R Baalu, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, RJD MP Manoj Jha, CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, AIFB's Debabrata Biswas and RSP General Secretary Manoj Bhattacharya.

"Braving severe repression, tear gassing, heavy water cannons, roadblocks, police barricades and digging up the national highways surrounding Delhi akin to waging a 'war' on our farmers, tens of thousands of farmers have successfully reached the National Capital of Delhi.

"We salute their determination and courage in this massive protest demanding the withdrawal of the retrograde anti-Kisan agri laws," they said in the statement.

The Central government was forced to relent and reverse its earlier decision of preventing the farmers from reaching Delhi to peacefully voice their protest and allocated them a place to assemble, it said.

The leaders said the ground allotted to the protesters in Delhi's Burari was too small.

"We the undersigned demand that a larger ground like Ram Lila Maidan or similar must be allotted for this peaceful protest and all necessary arrangements must be made for their stay and food.

"We reiterate our opposition to these new agri-laws that threaten India's food security, abolish MSP, destroy Indian agriculture and our farmers -- 'Annadatas'. The Central Government must adhere to the democratic process and norms and address the concerns of the protesting farmers," the statement said.

Farmers stayed put at Delhi borders on Saturday with thousands more set to join them and their leaders were yet to take a call on shifting to the Burari ground, a place earmarked for their agitation by police.

Thousands of farmers protesting the Centre's new farm laws are currently staying put at the Singhu and Tikri borders amid heavy police presence.

The protesters have expressed apprehension that these will pave the way for dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporates.

The Centre has invited several Punjab farmer organisations for another round of talks in Delhi on December 3.

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