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No, Bhupen Hazarika wouldn’t reject Bharat Ratna even if he opposed Citizenship Bill

6 20 102
12.02.2019

Two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Bhupen Hazarika should have been awarded the Bharat Ratna while he was alive, his son Tej Hazarika questioned the timing of the award as the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 has generated massive protests across the northeast.

The question that people across Assam and northeast are now asking is – would Bhupen Hazarika have accepted the Bharat Ratna in such a situation if he were alive? Would he have participated in the agitation against the Bill?

The issue of Assamese identity was close to his heart, and he would have definitely raised his voice against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. But he may not have necessarily rejected the Bharat Ratna. He had not rejected the Padma Shri in 1977 during the Emergency although he was a fierce critic of the regime.

Tej Hazarika – the singer’s only legal heir – has also not directly rejected the Bharat Ratna.

Also read: Pranab Mukherjee, Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hazarika awarded Bharat Ratna

In a statement issued from the US Monday, Tej Hazarika said: “As the son of Dr Bhupen Hazarika… I believe that my father’s name and words are being invoked and celebrated publicly while plans are afoot to pass a painfully unpopular Bill regarding citizenship that is actually undermining his documented position.”

He also said that he has not received any invitation and that “how the Centre moves on this matter far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition”, which he called “a display of short-lived cheap thrill”.

Tej Hazarika’s statement has, no doubt, given a big push to the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with a section of the media even interpreting it as a rejection of the Bharat Ratna itself. Three weeks ago, when the government had announced the Bharat Ratna for Hazarika, people in Assam had hailed it, although most said he should have been given the........

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