Swaraj Das

As a student during the revolutionary years in West Bengal, Swaraj Das was inclined towards the political empowerment of the depressed classes. The question that most troubled him during his college days was 'why is it that some people always get less than the others- in other words why is there a class difference?' With this communist bent in thinking, in 1990 he became the General Secretary of the Students Union of Kazi Nazrul Vidhyapeeth. He was involved in the student politics taking inspiration from the largest students movement in West Bengal- the Nandigram Agitation. As a student he got particularly disappointed by the irregular wage payment to the truck drivers and ill treatment by the truck owners towards the drivers working in the Asansol Durgapur region. After college he got into the trade union movement and in 1996 Asansol Durgapur Transport Workers Union was formed successfully. Later with a strong leadership and commitment the union was successful in demanding regular payment of wages, health insurances to the workers, identity cards for the workers and importantly gave recognition to their work. In the 2000's when there were proposals for starting coal mining in the Asansol region, Swaraj gathered people from all the affected villages and spoke about the mining, displacement and all the related issues. The compensation offered by Eastern Coalfields Ltd. which was the main mine operator was not composite and the land losers were at loss. Following this Swaraj formed the Project Affected People's Association' (PAPA). The association was empowered to demand their rights both social and monetary to the mining companies. The Association has been successful in demanding jobs for 300 land losers in the company, increasing the compensation, providing monthly solatium to landless people who are losing out on livelihood etc. As a adamant believer in the trade union ideology, Swaraj inspired the workers in the mining company to form a union. 'Integrated Coal Mining Shramik Union' was formed in order to generate pressure from inside as well for better treatment of the workers. The Union has been successful in demanding heath insurances, jobs to the kins of workers who have died in service etc.