To have a role model in your family is a blessing, but to call him your grandfather is even a bigger blessing. Integrity, honesty and hardworking are the qualities that best describe him . But the quality I love the most about him is his ability to treat each and every human being with love and respect.
My grandfather, Retd. IPS Raghurajsinh Jhala passed out from the Police Training School Nasik in 1958, and was thereafter selected in PSI cadre in Mumbai Police. He stood first in the 28 course training exam at Central Detective school Calcutta in 1969, and was the first from Gujarat to do so. He was awarded the President’s medal in 1979, for long and meritorious service.
In the year 1990 Godhra was embroiled in communal riots. CRPF and BSF were deployed, but the riots continued unabated. In the January of 1991 he was given the charge of additional DSP at Godhra in urgency. His exemplary policing in bringing the volatile situation under control is still remembered by the Police Force of Gujarat. He developed a very cordial rapport with both Hindu and Muslim communities of Godhra, and earned their love and respect through his unbiased and fair policing . In 1994 he retired as senior DSP in Godhra. Felicitation functions for him went on for a month, which were attended and organised by Gujarat Police and members of both Hindu and Muslim communities. In 1995 a grand felicitation function was organised at Bhavnagar (his hometown) . A handsome amount was gifted to him, as a gesture of honour and gratitude. He decided to set up a charitable trust with that amount . My grandmother would tell me, that when he had to go arrest a convict and would find out that the convict’s family was not financially stable, he would end up giving whatever he had with him. I am always in awe of his spirit of generosity and kindness.
But his one TRUE love has always been horses (my grandmother will be really upset with me right now:) ). In 1993 he attended the World Police Equestrian meet organised by National Police Academy ,Hyderabad as the Commander of Gujarat Mounted force. He went on to head many equestrian committees in the police force and otherwise. Entire Gujarat mounted force functions till date according to the manual designed by him with a lot of research and dedication. He is a leading authority in India when it comes to Kathiawadi horses. He had two Kathiawadi mares after he retired . He would be the happiest riding and grooming them. One day he was visited by two monks belonging to the Swaminarayan sect , they asked him for his two beloved mares . He gave them away too. Few years later he confided in me that he really missed them, and felt that his health had started failing since he gave away his horses. I told him that there was no need of giving them away, and we shall go and bring them back . To which he said Daan can never be taken back and if he had to, he would do it again.
Post retirement he decided to settle down near Gir sanctuary , in a village called Gadhiya. At an age when most relax into a retired life, he planted a mango orchard and built his home in a remote place with minimum help and support . Initially he lived in a mud house, and lived without electricity for almost 8 years. The place was a natural habitat of poisonous reptiles, wild animals like panthers and Asiatic lions. His spirit of service never leaves him , he is always ready to help villagers in need at any time of day or night. Kindness and generosity is a way of life for him . For him to live any other way is unthinkable. He helped build a school for the village . His goodwill attracted generous donors for the school. In 2007 there was poaching of 10 Asiatic lions in the wildlife protected area of Gir sanctuary. After 13 years of retirement, he was specially appointed by the state government to join the investigation. His knowledge of the forest and wildlife ultimately helped in solving the case. I have always seen him live a life of service, and not once complain. When faced with a difficult situation ,he always says “Chinta no karo, Mataji paar padse” (Don’t worry, Maa will see us through).
Most of my summer and winter school breaks would be spent here. This place has given me beautiful memories ,whether that be of going on a long drive with my grandfather and wishing that we spot a wild animal , hopefully a big cat, or having a meal under the shade of a mango tree in his beautiful mango orchard, or sleeping on the terrace under the beautifully lit night sky, feeling the cool breeze of the Arabian sea and hearing the calls of different animals.
But, as of few days ago his glorious mango orchard no longer stands, it was swept away by cyclone Taukhtae. This village that has given me beautiful memories has been badly bruised and battered by an act of nature. It will take 15 years or more to restore the glory of the beautiful paradise my grandfather had created. I could finally reach my grandparents 5 days after the cyclone. The pain was palpable in my grandparents’ voice, although they tried to keep a brave front not to upset me.I know how hard they had worked to build their dream, and that to be taken away in a couple of hours has to be extremely painful.
I am aware that being in a position of privilege we can’t even begin to imagine what this would have done to those who are not. The houses in this village are completely destroyed (the school my grandfather help build was their shelter on that cyclonic night ). In my humble effort to give back what this beautiful place has given me , I have started a fundraiser (link below), the proceeds of which shall go towards rebuilding the houses. With the monsoon soon approaching they need this more than anything. Along with this the pandemic has posed its own challenges . I hope you can help me with this initiative by donating and even if you are unable to do so just keep them in your prayers. I know my grandfather would have been in the forefront of the relief work if health was by his side , but I hope his granddaughter’s efforts can fill his heart with pride and bring a smile to his face .
The link to the fundraiser: