Singer Bhupen Hazarika’s son Tej Hazarika on Thursday said it will be a “tremendous honour” and a “dreamlike privilege” to receive the Bharat Ratna on behalf of his father from the government, PTI reported. Tej Hazarika had reportedly rejected the honour earlier this week in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The bill sought 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 lapsed on Thursday after the Rajya Sabha failed to pass it in the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha.
“The Government of India has graciously extended me an invitation to accept the Bharat Ratna for my father,” Tej Hazarika said in a statement issued to PTI from New York on Thursday. “He sacrificed much and devoted selflessly to the cause of a united and progressive India and now he is being recognized for that with this well-deserved award.”
Tej Hazarika also claimed that his Facebook post rejecting the Bharat Ratna for his father was “misinterpreted”. Tej Hazarika had said that the Citizenship Bill was “painfully unpopular” and undermines his father’s “documented position”. “It is unfortunate that [some] people would completely misinterpret my public February 11 statement regarding the Bharat Ratna itself by sadly misrepresenting my view of it,” Tej Hazarika said on Thursday.
“Although I have lived abroad most of my life, my Indian roots have been strong all along as not only was I born in India, but so were my father and mother and their parents,” Tej Hazarika said. He added that he has developed “the highest regard” for the Indian republic and its diversity through “informed reflection”.
Tej Hazarika’s rejection of the honour had caused differences of opinion in his family. Bhupen Hazarika’s brother Samar Hazarika said on February 12 that Tej had not contacted him before announcing his decision. Samar Hazarika said the matter should not be politicised. “I cannot accept or reject the honour since it was not given to me,” he added.