Police on Sunday registered a case against senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for his remark about the Bharat Ratna being conferred on Assamese artiste Bhupen Hazarika, PTI reported. Kharge had criticised the government for giving the award to Hazarika, whom he referred to as “ a singer”, instead of giving it to Shivakumara Swami, the Lingayat seer who died recently.

The case was filed by a Right to Information activist from Assam, Raju Mahanta, who said his comment hurt the sentiments of Assamese people. Mahanta has asked for an apology from Kharge in the Lok Sabha.

On Saturday, Kharge had said the government had conferred the Bharat Ratna on “a singer” and “a man who propagated their RSS ideology”, in reference to Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh, instead of Shivakumara Swami.

Kharge had later clarified his statement, NDTV reported. “Dr Hazarika was one of our country’s most gifted artists whose extraordinary talents encompassed music, poetry, literature and cinema. His contributions brought the culture and art of Assam to the attention of the world. Dr Hazarika’s work greatly enriched the cultural landscape of our nation and his influence on the world of art and culture remains profoundly relevant even today,” it said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader Himanta Biswa Sarma had demanded an apology from Kharge for his remark, while the All-Assam Students’ Union asked the Congress not to politicise Hazarika’s Bharat Ratna.

A case was also filed against Assamese singer Zubeen Garg for allegedly insulting the Bharat Ratna.

The Bharat Ratnas, India’s highest civilian award, were announced on Friday.