‘Cheap thrills’: Bhupen Hazarika’s son weighs in on Bharat Ratna, Citizenship Bill

Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked the late Bhupen Hazarika in Guwahati while assuring the people of the northeast that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would not harm their interests, Tej Hazarika, the legendary singer’s son waded into the row over Bill on Monday, underscoring that Bharat Ratnas and longest bridges were necessary but would not promote peace and prosperity.

“Only just popular laws and foresight on the part of leadership will,” he said, sharply critical of the Bill which aims to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In a statement, Hazarika, who was reported to have declined to accept the award, said there was nothing for him to reject as he hadn’t received any invitation to receive the award. But he stressed that how the Centre moves on the stand-off over the Citizenship Bill “far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition – a display of short lived cheap thrills”.

The government had last month announced that Hazarika, also known as the ‘Bard of the Brahmaputra’, would be conferred India’s highest civilian honour, along with former President Pranab Mukherjee and the late social activist Nanaji Deshmukh.

The citizenship bill, Tej Hazarika said, would be in direct opposition to what his father believed in his heart of hearts.

“For his 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 un-constitutional, un-democratic and un-Indian,” he said.

On February 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Guwahati, while promising that the Bill would not harm the interests of the people of Northeast had ended his address with lines of a Bhupen Hazarika song. Modi had said how it would have been better if he had received the award in his lifetime. India’s longest road bridge in Sadiya ain upper Assam is also named after Hazarika.

Bhupen Hazarika died in 2011.

Bhupen Hazarika’s brother, Samar Hazarika said his nephew has not discussed anything with them.

“I have just heard about Tej’s statement. It is his decision and he has not discussed or conveyed it to us. We shouldn’t politicize the issue. I can’t accept or reject the honor as it is not given to me. Maybe Bhupen Da would have accepted it or rejected it, I can’t say,” Bhupen Hazarika’s brother, Samar Hazarika.

“Though it came late, Bhupen Da has got a deserving honour. He is much above petty politics. This award is not just for the family. It belongs to entire northeast and the rest of the country.” Manisha Hazarika, wife of Bhupen Hazarika’s brother, the late Jayanta Hazarika who was also a singer.

First Published: Feb 11, 2019 23:44 IST

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