- PM speaks on farm laws protests and R-Day violence
- Opposition had demanded a probe against alleged "outside elements"
- Government's proposal to stay law for 18 months still on table, PM said
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
"During the All-Party meet PM Modi assured that the government is approaching the farmers' issue with an open mind. The PM said the government stand is same as it was on January 22 - proposal by the Agriculture Minister still stands," Union Minister Pralhad Joshi tweeted Saturday afternoon, adding, "He (the Prime Minister) reiterated what (Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh) Tomarji said - that he is phone call away for talks."
The offer, seen as hope of a breakthrough, was put forward after nine failed rounds of talks and first rejected on January 21. It was offered twice more - in the tenth and eleventh round of talks - and refused each time, leading Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to declare last week that "the ball is your (the farmers') court now".
PM Modi also referred to the violence at the Red Fort and said "the law will take its course". The opposition condemned the violence but demanded a probe into "outside elements" infiltrating the movement. The farmers have made similar allegations - accusing Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu of inciting the clashes and planting a Sikh religious flag at the Red Fort.
Farmers' camps in the Delhi border areas of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri continue to be tense. Extra security forces have been deployed at all three sites after the UP government said it would evict protesters from Ghazipur, forcibly if needed. The farmers stood firm, with the BKU's Rakesh Tikait declaring himself "ready to face bullets". At Singhu and Tikri (on the Haryana border) a similar build-up of forces took place, with police digging up roads to stop the farmers from going further.
Farmers are responding to a call for support, particularly at Ghazipur, with Mr Tikait telling news agency PTI today they "are coming in to show solidarity...". He said a crowd of around 10,000 was present at the site but stressed that it was not "stagnant". On Friday a massive crowd had gathered for a farmers "mahapanchayat" in UP's Muzaffarnagar, which is less than 150 km from Ghazipur.
On Saturday afternoon the Home Ministry suspended internet services at all three sites for areas of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri for 48 hours starting from 11 pm. The decision was taken to "maintain public safety," the ministry said. Electricity and water supply to the Ghazipur was temporarily disconnected yesterday, but has since been restored.
Hours earlier there was a flare-up at the Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border, where a group of over 200 people barged into the protest site, threw stones and vandalised the farmers' tents. Two policemen were injured in that incident. A similar face-off ensued at another protest in Haryana - where farmers were given a 24-hour ultimatum to leave.
On Thursday Delhi Police issued notices to farmer leaders over the Republic Day violence, giving them three days to respond. According to officials, those named were also asked to surrender their passports. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, under whose banner around 40 farmer unions have gathered, has said it will not be intimidated by the notices.
The farmers have alleged a conspiracy to taint their Republic Day tractor rally in which protesters clashed with the police in various parts of Delhi after forcing their way in through barricades.
The farmers are protesting three laws they believe will vastly deplete their income by taking away guaranteed minimum prices and by leaving them vulnerable to corporates. The government says the laws bring long overdue reforms in the agriculture sector, and will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country for competitive prices.