Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika’s family appeared to be divided on the matter of accepting the Bharat Ratna conferred posthumously on him. His son Tej Hazarika on Monday rejected the honour in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, but the singer’s brother, Samar, said Tej had taken the decision without consulting him, PTI reported.
“Bharat Ratnas and longest bridges, while necessary, will not promote the peace and prosperity of the citizens of India,” Tej Hazarika told The Indian Express in an email on Monday. “Only just popular laws and foresight on the part of leadership will. Numerous media journalists are now asking me whether or not I will accept the Bharat Ratna for my father.”
Tej Hazarika said he has not yet received any invitation from the Centre to receive the award on his father’s behalf. He added that how the Centre moves on this matter is more important than the award, which he labelled as “a display of short-lived cheap thrills”.
Tej Hazarika also said that the Citizenship Bill was “painfully unpopular” and undermines his father’s “documented position” and “would in reality be in direct opposition to what Bhupen Da believed in his heart of hearts”.
However, Hazarika’s brother, Samar Hazarika, said the matter should not be politicised, the Hindustan Times reported. “It is his [Tej Hazarika’s] decision and he has not discussed or conveyed it to us,” Samar Hazarika said. “We shouldn’t politicise the issue. I can’t accept or reject the honour as it is not given to me. Maybe Bhupen Da would have accepted it or rejected it, I can’t say.”
Manisha, the wife of Bhupen Hazarika’s deceased brother Jayanta Hazarika, said the famous singer was above petty politics. “This award is not just for the family,” she said. “It belongs to entire North East and the rest of the country.”
Hrishikesh Goswami, the media adviser to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, said Bhupen Hazarika’s family had already accepted the award, reported The Indian Express. “By refusing the Bharat Ratna, does Tej Hazarika want to say that his father was not eligible for the award?” Goswami asked. “Why is he sitting in the United States and commenting on the bill?”
Assam Congress MP Ripun Bora gave a notice during the Zero Hour in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, to discuss the “circumstances which led to late Bhupen Hazarika’s son refusing father’s Bharat Ratna”, ANI reported. The bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha, will be tabled in the Upper House on Tuesday.