Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said that farmers protesting against the agriculture laws will honour the dignity of the prime minister, but while remaining committed to their own self-respect, PTI reported.

“We will honour and respect the dignity of prime minister,” Tikait said, according to PTI. “Farmers don’t want that the government or Parliament bows down to them. [But] we will also ensure that the self-respect of farmers is protected. A middle way should be found...talks should be held.”

Tikait was responding to reporters’ questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance that the government was “a phone call away” for talks with farmers. On Saturday, while speaking at an all-party meeting, Modi had made the comment, while reiterating the Centre’s offer to suspend the implementation of the three new laws for one-and-a-half-years.

On Sunday, Tikait thanked the prime minister for his initiative but asserted that the farmers will hold discussions and will not reach an agreement under pressure, ANI reported. He also demanded that farmers who were arrested following the violence in Delhi during tractor rally on January 26 be released.

“The government should release our men and prepare an environment conducive for talks,” PTI quoted, Tikait as saying. “A respectful solution should be reached. We will never agree to anything under pressure.”

The farmer leader claimed that the violence in the Capital on Republic Day was part of a “conspiracy”. He criticised the incident where one of the protestors unfurled a flag related to the Sikh community at the Red Fort. “The Tricolor is over and above everything...We will never let anyone disrespect it, it will not be tolerated,” Tikait said.

Earlier on Sunday, Modi too had said that the country was saddened to see how some of the protestors had “insulted the tricolour”. However, fact-checking websites have pointed out that the tricolour was not taken down by the protestors on Tuesday.