Farmer leader Naresh Tikait on Sunday said that protesting farmers will honour the dignity of the Prime Minister but are also committed to protecting their self-respect, a day after Narendra Modi said his government was just a “phone call away” for talks with them.
Tikait said the government should “release our men and prepare an environment conducive for talks”.
“A respectful solution should be reached. We will never agree to anything under pressure,” he told PTI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Saturday said his government’s offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers “still stands” and the Centre was a just a “phone call away” for talks, days after violence broke out in parts of the national capital on Republic Day.
“We will honour and respect the dignity of the Prime Minister. Farmers don’t want that the government or Parliament bows down to them,” Tikait said.
“We will also ensure that the self-respect of farmers is protected. A middle way should be found. Talks should be held,” he added.
During their January 26 parade, many of the protesters, driving tractors, had stormed the Red Fort, with some of them hoisting religious flags on its domes and on the flagstaff at the ramparts.
Tikait said: “The violence on January 26 was part of a conspiracy. The Tricolour is over and above everything. We will never let anyone disrespect it. It will not be tolerated.”
The Delhi Police has registered nearly 40 cases and made over 80 arrests in connection with the violence and vandalism.
“The government should release our men and prepare an environment conducive for talks. A respectful solution should be reached. We will never agree to anything under pressure,” Tikait asserted.
In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio broadcast on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi also referred to the Red Fort incident, saying the country was much pained at seeing the ‘dishonour’ to the Tricolour on Republic Day.
Meanwhile, more tents came up at the UP gate protest site on Sunday as farmers kept pouring in from neighbouring regions.
Many waited for hours to talk to Tikait or to click a selfie with him.
The farmer leader remained busy meeting his supporters and talking to the media, halting only when his voice broke.
A Bharatiya Kisan Union member said Tikait had not been able to sleep for more than three hours a day for the past three days.
“In between, he complained of blood pressure issues but is doing fine now,” the BKU member said.