Harekala Hajabba, a simple man who built a school by selling oranges on the streets and conferred with prestigious Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his home town Mangaluru on Tuesday.
The whole country saluted the 65-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 Monday.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Mangaluru International Airport to welcome him.
As soon as he landed and emerged from the lobby, his fans surrounded him and felicitated him with bouquets and shawls amid cheering and clapping.
Hajabba, who is not used to celebrity status, was taken aback by seeing hundreds of people applauding him.
He was escorted to his residence in a government vehicle.
Hajabba won more hearts when he requested for a PU college for his village near Mangaluru. He maintained that it was an honour to receive Padma Shri award from the President and also expressed his happiness over shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He had dreamt of building a school and kept aside a portion of paltry income that came from selling oranges.
His father was a sand miner while his mother used to roll beedis.
Hajabba, who still sells oranges, decided to build the school after he couldn’t understand what a foreigner was telling him.
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 thr school in 2001.