Reading the response of the government or one part of the government to the protests by the farmers on the borders of Delhi made me feel ashamed of the tribe I belong to. Government spokespersons suggested that the farmers were being mobilised by the tukde tukde gangs, meaning the civil society organisations.

My feeling of shame was because I felt that these civil society rights champions should not have gone to the scene and added their voice. The farmers’ authenticity and issues were powerful enough to provide the dissent. Associating them with ourselves, those who represent a broad spectrum of rights violations, as well as are in the bad books of the state, hurt the clarity and purity of the collective voice and power of the farmers.

The farmers are so authentic; there are no representatives of organisations but just farmers. To have civil society organizations sit in the front line, on the road with their placards and voice, to show solidarity , was careless, inappropriate and to some extent destructive.

As could be expected, this association has brought out a response by the state, that this farmers protests has been organised by the tukde tukde gang.

Of course, that is nonsense. But we, since I also belong to the civil society community, have disgraced ourselves. In my opinion there is need for us to be more circumspect. Of course, we support the farmers but that doesn’t mean that we should go there with our placards and sit there.

There should be some understanding that they are speaking for themselves and very powerfully , and do not really need the intermediaries. That we believe in them can be discussed amongst ourselves, or we could write in newspapers giving a detailed explanation of why the farmers do not like the bill, explain it to ourselves - since it is not very clear, except to the farmers themselves.

It is the time for civil society organisations to be much more circumspect on the role they need to play or they wish to play in this current situation. By current situation, I am not limiting myself to the farmers protests, the current situation to me is the entire political philosophy that is being promoted by the state.

Hundreds of articles have been written and speeches made by leaders, by philosophers, by writers on the wrongfulness of the state’s approach to popular voice whether it is Shaheen Bagh, or other policies and proposals including issues like the Ram temple in Ayodhya or laying the foundation stone for the new parliament or love jihad. All these have been discussed and criticised in the newspapers by people like us.

However our voice should not be loud and frontal when such a remarkable collective voice of thousands of stakeholders in the farm sector has emerged with their strength. Undaunted by the weather, by requirements of food, family, they have just shown their will, and also that it is possible for a dispersed group of people to come together on an issue that affects all of them equally.

Looking back, I wish the migrants could have done this when they were pushed out of our cities, gather like a storm and refuse to move. But I realise that, that would not have been possible because the migrants, are highly diverse in every way - including language, skills, etc., So that comparison is not valid and I withdraw that.

In my adult years, namely, the last 50 years or even more, very rarely have I seen this kind of massive collective resistance appearing peacefully on the streets in such large numbers and it is almost invisibly organised. Yes, there have been others, especially during the freedom struggle and also during the anti emergency resistance. There have also been many marches and collective protests on many issues .But this resistance is unique for its size, its solidarity, its unique single identity, where its political backing, even if it is there is rather invisibilized .

So dear friends of the tukde tukde gangs, leave them alone please.. let journalists work on giving publicity , but we need not show how righteous we are by sitting with them and raising our hands , in response to slogans by ourselves ..

Cover Photograph Hanan Zaffar - A night at the farmers protests