Tripura braveheart finally gets bank account, thanks to his humane effort


AGARTALA, June 25, 2018 (TNN): Swapan Debbarma has never been to a bank, leave alone having a bank account. His average daily income has rarely touched Rs 100, and whatever he earned selling bamboo shoots and forest produce that he collected every day, went about feeding his family of seven-wife, four children and his parents.

So, when cheques started arriving in his name, he was confused as to what to do. Today, Swapan has about Rs 70,000 in cash and more than Rs 3 lakh in cheques, thanks to his heroic effort last week in saving the Dharmanagar-Agartala passenger train from an accident. But the cheques, which he has been receiving from well-wishers, have left Swapan in a spot. In the absence of a bank account, he doesn't know how he can use the money.

"I have received more than Rs 70,000 in cash, dresses, sweets and citations. My family is being treated to wonderful dishes in the city, none of which we had ever tasted before. I also got cheques worth more than Rs 3 lakh from various institutions and individuals, but do not know how to encash them," Swapan said. He has been unable to get an Aadhaar card or open a bank account because he is illiterate. The Jan-Dhan Yojana, which is meant for people like him, has also bypassed the Debbarma family. But that was then.

Since last week, Swapan and his nine-year-old daughter Sumati, who helped her father avert the danger, have achieved celebrity status. These days, their small dwelling in Dhancherra village some 20 km from the district headquarters town of Dhalai – 93 km from capital Agartala – is a hive of activity. Locals are queueing up at their door, ministers are paying them visits and having lunch at their humble home even as gifts keep pouring in. The state government has felicitated the duo in the assembly and both have been recommended for a bravery award.

On Saturday, the family was present at an event organised by an Agartala-based career counselling centre and coaching institute. "I am overwhelmed with the response people have shown towards Swapan. We have proposed to the government to rename Agartala Railway Station after him," said Abhijeet Bhattacharjee, the event organiser. Bhattacharjee said they have initiated efforts to complete all the formalities so that Swapan can open his bank account.
On June 15, heavy rains had washed away soil under a portion of the track at Dhancherra, between Mungiakami and Ambassa railway stations. Swapan and Sumati saw this while crossing the track in search of bamboo shoots, edible leaves, bark, root, stem and small aquatic animals which they sell to earn money. But that day, instead of going about his job, Swapan decided to stay beside the track lest a train comes along.
The father-daughter duo waited for a long time, and with no track inspection staff in sight, decided to carry on the vigil. Sometime later, when they heard the whistle of an approaching train from Ambassa, they started running towards it, waving a piece of cloth. It was their action that caught the loco pilot's attention and nearly 2,000 passengers escaped unhurt.