Citizenship Bill ‘Undermines’ Bhupen Hazarika’s Beliefs, Says Son

Tej put the govt on notice over the Bharat Ratna award and said the Bill ‘undermined’ his father’s ‘position’.

3 min read
File photo of late singer Bhupen Hazarika.

Assamese singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika’s son Tej took a swipe at BJP and said on Monday, 11 February, that the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was “painfully unpopular” in the Northeast.

Tej put the government on notice over the Bharat Ratna award on Monday, saying the Bill was “actually undermining” his father’s “documented position” and “would in reality be in direct opposition to what Bhupenda believed in his heart of hearts,” reported PTI.

Bhupen Hazarika was awarded the country’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna posthumously by the Narendra Modi-led government last month.

"Numerous media journalists are now asking me whether or not I will accept the Bharat Ratna for my father. I go on record here to answer that A), I have not received any invitation so far. There is nothing to reject. And B), how the Centre moves on this matter far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition – a display of short lived cheap thrills," he wrote in a statement.

"For his (Bhupen Hazarika) fans – a vast majority of people of the Northeast – and India's great diversity, including all indigenous populations of India, he would never have endorsed what appears, quite transparently, to be an underhanded way of pushing a law against the will and benefit of the majority in a manner that also seems to be grossly unconstitutional, undemocratic and un-Indian," said Tej, who resides in the US.

“Adopting any form of this Bill at this point in the manner in which it is being proffered, now or in the future, will ultimately have the sad and undesirable effect of not only disrupting the quality of life, language, identity and power balance of the region, but that of undermining my father’s position – by delivering a wreaking blow to the harmony, inner integrity and unity of the secular and democratic Republic of India.”
Tej Hazarika

Assam Govt Raises Questions on Tej Hazarika’s Remark

Reacting to Tej’s comment, Hrishikesh Goswami, media adviser to the Assam chief minister, told The Indian Express, “The family has already heartily accepted the award and welcomed it publicly. By refusing the Bharat Ratna, does Tej Hazarika want to say that his father was not eligible for the award? Why is he sitting in the US and commenting on the Bill?”

The BJP government at the Centre has been pitching for early passage of the legislation, which promises Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The proposed Bill has triggered protests across the Northeast, with many organisations and parties claiming that it would have a negative impact on the demography of the region.

Meanwhile, Bhupen Hazarika's brother and prominent singer Saumer Hazarika told the media that the family has neither rejected the award nor criticised the Centre for conferring the Bharat Ratna posthumously.

Saumar Hazarika said, "Tez has not contacted me on the issue of his Facebook post today. We, as Bhupenda's family, have welcome the Bharat Ratna award to him. We had attended the Assam government's programme celebrating the conferring of the honour to my brother who always stood for unity of the people of the Northeast and the country."

Manisha Hazarika, wife of Bhupen Hazarika's late brother Jayanta, also said, "Bhupen Hazarika was an institution. He is above politics and (it’s) because he took Assam to the world that he has been honoured with the highest civilian award. If this award is made family centric, then it will be a dishonour to the award, the entire Northeast region and the country."

(With inputs from The Indian Express and PTI)

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