Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika’s family on Monday refused to accept the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, as a form of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, IndiaToday reported. Hazarika was posthumously conferred the Bharat Ratna on Republic Day.
“I am aware of the situation in Assam,” his son Tez Hazarika said, according to the Northeast Now. “Sudhakantha Bhupen Hazarika, who had always stood by the people of Assam at the time of struggle, perhaps would not have wished to accept the recognition. So as his son I am not accepting the recognition bestowed upon him posthumously by the government of India. At the current situation in Assam, I can only do this much for the people of Assam. My mind and conscience is advising me not to accept the recognition. As the maestro was an institution, he was beyond any honour.”
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend a 1955 law to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. It is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Most North Eastern states have opposed the proposed legislation, and it has sparked several protests in the region. Ten political outfits in the region, including allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party, have also unanimously decided to oppose the bill.
Earlier this month, Manipuri filmmaker and music composer Aribam Syam Sharma said he was returning the Padma Shri, which he had received in 2006, in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.