Thursday, September 10, 2020

Com. Saroj Kumar Dhar widely known as Com. S.K. Dhar born in Chattgram district of Bangladesh on 14.02.1936, move from Bangladesh at his early age to West Bengal and joined Railway as engine cleaner at Burdwan in 1956.
From his early stage of service, he associated with trade union movement and occupied a position in ERMU affiliated with AIRF, the AILRSA was then not in existence but the Loco Running Staff at the different place started to organize in different names. Com. Dhar subsequently came in South Eastern Rly and joined as an Electric Assistant Driver at Anara in Adra division being selected by Railway Service Commission in 1965. 





When Com. Dhar came in South Eastern Rly at Anara, the Elect. Asst. driver has to carry the tool box and PT box (portable telephone box) from Crew Booking point to Loco. Com. Dhar then started to resist this system and simultaneously started to organize the Asst. Driver’s Association. The resistance to this system went to a peak and the trains started to be detained. Lastly the administration had to modify the system and the Asst. Driver Association became a forceful organization. While Com. Dhar organizing the categorical Association, his thinking was not sectarian. He always tried to use the forceful organization in the interest of struggle of common Railways and working class movement. He always paid a vital role to bring the Railways in main stream of national working class movement. As a first step, he took lead to organize Loco Running Staff Association in South Eastern Rly uniting all three wings i.e. Electric, Diesel and Steam. 

By the time All India Loco Running Staff Association came in force whose first conference was conducted at Jamnagar in Western Rly in 1965. It was a time when in Southern Railway the Firemen Council became a forceful organization and struck the work, paralyzed the Railway. It was Com. Dhar’s and Com. YD. Sundaramurty’s effort that a unity convention (special convention) could be organized in 1970 at Vijayawada to unite all the Loco Running Staff organization which were functioning on the different names under one single Banner of AILRSA. Com Dhar was elected as Joint Secretary General. 

The Burdwan Conference in 1973 in which Com. Dhar played an important role for taking strike decision. Com. Dhar was in negotiating committee which led a successful and historical negotiation resulting the strike period converted into SCL. These strikes encouraged AILRSA effort and the NCCRS was formed which lead the 1974 strike. Com. Dhar was also in NCCRS highest committee. It is countless and can’t be narrated the instances of able leadership of Com. Dhar. 

That quality of leadership had elavated him to the post of Secretary General of AILRSA from our seventh BGM which was held at Kota in Western Rly in 1978 and since then he has been continuing as Secretary General of AILRSA till his death maintaining a workable relation with all the fighting section of working class. 

In our BGM at Varanasi in 1974, there was strong resistance to the decision of participation in historical Railways strike in 1974 from a small group of delegates which we could be fought back and decision was taken to participate in Strike and his role in this fight was very much important. 

Similarly there was an attempt to split the AILRSA in 1980 in Agra BGM and we successfully could fight back this conspiracy under his leadership. There have been continuous attempts from anti-unity force and the Rly. Administration to disrupt the AILRSA but under his wise leadership, we could be able to maintain the status, position and unity of AILRSA. 

Com. Dhar’s life was full of struggle. He not only participated in 1968 token strike of Railway men but took a leading part to organize it. He was arrested under MISA in 1976 during the period of internal emergency and was in jail at Tihar and then shifted to Jaipur for 2 years term. He also faced suspension, removal and penal transfer but nothing could break him. Com. S.K. Dhar for whole life continue to struggle against a reformist idea which has a wide influence over Railways movement and upheld the principle of unity and struggle. 

In the year 1981, AILRSA was forced to stage a strike because of the massive victimization like summary removal and other dreadful onslaughts, unleashed as a policy of government of India, by the Railway administration headed by the then Railway Board Chairman Mr. M.S.Gujral 

Agitations started from SER for local issues later in Western and Southern Railways in the month of Dec, 1980. In the background of bursting out of struggles at various places, the All India leadership of AILRSA given a national call without any preparation. 

Prior to the strike, there developed some kind of difference of opinion between Com.M.R. Sabhapathy and Com. Dhar. Com. M.R.S resigned from All India President post, which ought not have been done by him, if he had placed association interest and integrity above all other interests and considerations. That paved the way for the administration to strike against the loco men. 

Around 950 workers were removed from service by imposing 14/2 and article 311, ie. Without enquiry, 500 were compulsory retired, around 1000 reverted, break in service was imposed on 7000 Loco men. This strike was failed due to poor preparation and leg pulling by a section of leadership. For every victory hundred number of claiming will be there but for defeat no one will take responsibility. Some of the leaders blamed Com. Dhar for the failure of strike. 

Some revisionist leaders left the organization blaming Dhar and it was com. Dhar’s responsibility to bring back the removed employees back to service. He left with empty cash balance, abandoned trade union and fearing work force. He then approached Com. Somnath Chatterjee, CPI (M) leader. With Somnath’s letter he met leading Supreme Court Advocate KK Venugopal. At that time his consulting fee was Rs.35000/-. But Sri.Venugopal told “my consulting fee is Sri. Somnath’s letter”. His case fee was 105000/- . But Dhar was only able to collect 47000/- in many installments. Even then Adv. Venugopal fought the case and succeeded. The Railway authorities not utilized the 14/2 and article 311 after that incident. This was a unique achievement. 

During the period 1980-1990, this organization had a lean period of activities because of the massive victimization. Com Dhar traveled entire country to build up the organization. He succeeded in making 13 zonal bodies for AILRSA out of 16 zonal railways. He was a simple man in personal life. He developed unity among the railway trade unions, where the AIRF and NFIR were maintaining domination. He along with Com. NS Bangoo worked hard to organize All India Railway Employees Coordination Committee (AIREC) as a challenge to the recognized federations. He was Assistant Secretary General of AIREC. 

His commitment to the ideals and the ideology he believed in, made him an ardent supporter and participant in all activities connected with the workers, which led to his arrest and incarceration during the dark days of emergency. His entire life had been a saga of struggles and sacrifices. It is the life sketch of comrades like S.K Dhar that shall provide inspiration and motivation for thousands of workers in the days to come for more than ever, they face today the toughest challenge of existence and survival imposed by the inhuman imperialist intimidation and exploitation. 


RED SALUTE TO THE MEMORIES OF COM. SK. DHAR. 


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