Padma Shri Awardee Hajabba Harekala turns Emotional when Honoured by Top Cop N Shashi Kumar in the presence of the FIRST Police Commissioner of Mangaluru Police Commissionerate (in 2010) Gopal B Hosur (prior to which he was IGP-Western Range).
Mangaluru: Harekala Hajabba, a simple man who built a school by selling oranges on the streets and who was conferred with prestigious Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, received a grand honour from Mangaluru Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar on Thursday, 11 November at Police Commissioner’s Conference Hall, in the presence of the FIRST Police Commissioner of Mangaluru Police Commissionerate (in 2010) Gopal B Hosur (prior to which he was IGP-Western Range), DCP (Law & Order) Hariram Shankar, DCP (Crime) Dinesh Kumar, ACP’s Nataraj and P A Hegde, and a large group of police officers and other police personnel and staff.
Hajabba became emotional while being felicitated by the police commissioner in front of a large gathering of law enforcement personnel. Hajabba, speaking on the occasion, went emotional as his eyes became wet. He said he saw President of India Ramanath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from very near. Filled with joy, the orange vendor recalled shaking hands with Modi. “It is my fortune that the PM of 130 crore people touched me,” he said and explained that he had gone to receive the prestigious award barefoot as he thought it’s not dignified to wear footwear in front of such dignitaries. It should be noted that the whole country saluted the 66-year-old Hajabba for his contribution and appreciated his humility for walking barefoot towards the dais to receive the honour from President Ram Nath Kovind on 8 November.
In his elaborate speech he thanked a bunch of Good Samaritans who had helped him come up in life, among which was U T Fareed, the father of U T Khader. He said, “I dreamt of building a school, for which I kept aside a portion of my paltry income that came from selling oranges.My father was a sand miner while my mother used to roll beedis, and we lived in a small tiled roof house”. Hajabba, earned Rs 75 everyday from selling fruits and provided for a family of five. Despite that, he managed to save money and with the help of locals and a madrassa committee, built the school in 2001.
Hajabba who is uneducated and in conversation, also narrated a story that of an encounter with foreign tourists led him to his decision. “One couple was asking me the price of oranges, but then I did not understand. Despite my best efforts, I could not talk in anything besides Tulu and Beary language. The couple walked away. I felt very bad and felt that at least the children of my own village should not be in a similar situation. I realized the manner in which communication can help one to progress in life, and at the same time bring people together,” he said.
Former Mangaluru Police Commissioner Gopal B Hosur said, “I feel like I am back with my police family, amidst a large audience. Everyone makes mistakes as I did, but I overcame them with determination and hard work and succeeded in my duties. I had full support from my colleagues, which was easy for me to achieve success. I feel proud that the Mangaluru Police Commissionerate was launched during my tenure, and Mangaluru should be proud to have a young and dynamic police commissioner N Shashi Kumar, who has initiated quite a few new projects under his leadership. Looking at Hajabba, I say that we shouldn’t judge a person by his look, but by his qualities and inner heart, and Hajabba is the perfect example. Government should recognize and respect even a poor man, and not the rich and influential. Hajabba has made a difference, and others should follow in his footsteps”.
Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar complimenting Hajabba said, “Hajabba’s story has inspired many and people are praising him for his selfless act. Hats off to Harekala Hajabba for his great dedication in the field of education. By sacrificing his personal life and working all day to develop the school himself nurtured for the cause of deprived children of society. He would have got the Padma Shri even earlier. Hajabba is the real influencer, the real hero and a deserved recipient of the recognition. This is the true art of giving to make education a part of their living. A real hero. What’s amazing is that true celebrities have been getting these awards, they totally deserve this- and Hajabba deserved this prestigious Award”.
Gopal B Hosur was also felicitated on the occasion for his great service and dedication given to Mangaluru and the State during his tenure. ACP Nataraj compered the programme very meticulously and professionally.