Farmer leader Naresh Tikait on Sunday (January 31) said that protesting farmers will honour the dignity of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, but are also committed to protecting their own self-respect, a day after Modi said his government was “just a phone call away” for talks with them.
Tikait said the government should release their 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 at the Ghazipur border, between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Prime Minister Modi had said on Saturday (January 30) that his government’s offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers still stands and he is just a phone call away, days after violence broke out in parts of the national capital on Republic Day.
“We will honor and respect the dignity of the Prime Minister. Farmers don’t want that the government or Parliament bows down to them,” Tikait said, adding: “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, reached the Red Fort while some of them hoisted a Sikh religious flag on an empty pole on a dome just below the National flag.
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, he said.”
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 saddened at seeing the dishonour to the Tricolour on Republic Day.
Naresh’s brother 51-year-old Rakesh Tikait, a constable-turned-farmer leader and Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson, had on Thursday (January 28) refused to follow the local administration’s orders to vacate the Ghazipur protest site and court arrest. Videos of him breaking down and threats of hanging himself if the farm laws weren’t repealed went viral.
On Friday (January 29), Naresh had called a mahapanchayat at Muzaffarnagar, which saw thousands of farmers turning up.
(With inputs from agencies)