Dhirubhai - The Man - School At Junagarh

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School At Junagarh

After he completed his fifth standard in the village school, Dhirubhai was sent to the district town of Junagarh for further studies. There he showed great verbal acumen, was highly acclaimed in school sports and for his team spirit and organizing skills, though not so much for his performance in routine class tests. Still, he did reasonably well in his annual examinations except, of course, in arithmetic in which subject he just managed to scrape through with considerable difficulty

Whether at school or in the boarding house, he was foremost in all school boyish pranks, fun and frolic and, of course, outstanding in outdoors activities like leading schoolmates to the top of Girnar Hills on weekends or into the famous Gir forest to see lions. In his third year in the school he was elected general secretary of the Junagarh Students Union. It was during this time that Dhirubhai had his first brush with the state authorities. Junagarh those days was a princely state ruled by a Muslim Nawab.

The Indian Independence Act, as passed by the British Parliament, required the Nawab to merge his state with the Indian Union but the Nawab did not agree to that. On 15th August, 1947, when India was celebrating its first independence day, the people in Junagarh were still in chains. They were told to stay indoors. All rallies were banned and flying the Indian national flag was outlawed.

Dhirubhai decided to defy the ban. He called a meeting of all Junagarh students at a school ground where a flag hoisting ceremony was held with big fanfare. Many patriotic songs were sung and sweets were distributed among those present. Dhirubhai delivered his first public speech at the rally. It was a brief but a passionate and a thundering speech. He spoke with great confidence.

Hardly had the rallyists dispersed when he was summoned to the nearby police station for defying the prohibitory orders. Seeing how young he was the police did not think it would be right to charge him with organizing such a big rally single-handed. They wanted him to plead innocence and implicate some Praja Mandal leaders. He was questioned for several hours, threatened and pushed around but he did not bend or bow. He was allowed to return to the boarding house late in the night. That was the first time he got a hero's welcome from his schoolmates.