Bard’s family distances itself from Tez remark on Bharat Ratna

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Son linking Bharat Ratna to father Bhupen Hazarika with CAB creates storm

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Feb 12: When Assamese singer Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s name was announced for Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, his son had described it as a “victory for humanity, diversity and the country’s secular character”.

However, a few weeks later, his son Tej Hazarika, has called it “a display of short-lived cheap thrills”. Reason? The intensifying protests in the entire northeast over the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the centre’s intent to grant citizenship to non-Muslims. The Bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha.

But that’s his opinion, not the family’s, clarified Samar Hazarika, the legend’s brother.

In a statement here, Tej Hazarika expressed discontent and displeasure over the controversial Bill, calling it “undemocratic and unconstitutional”. The US-based son said that his father would have felt the same and clarified that he did not call the gesture to award Bharat Ratna a “cheap thrill” but the timing to present the honour.

Samar’s comments came a day after Tez said his father’s name and words were being invoked and celebrated publicly (by the Centre) even as plans were afoot to pass the “painfully unpopular” Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

“We have noticed that a controversy has been created over bestowing the Bharat Ratna to the mass singer by media. In this regard, any controversy is totally unnecessary,” Samar, also a renowned singer, said in a statement.

The decision to confer the highest civilian award on Bhupen Hazarika has overwhelmed the people of Assam and has given immense joy to the family, he said.

Samar said his brother had earlier been honoured with prestigious awards like Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Dada Saheb Phalke and Sangeet Natak Akademi.

“Each award has naturally enhanced the pride and honour of every Assamese and Assam,” he said.

“He (Bhupen Hazarika) has taken Assam’s heritage and strong folk culture through his creations to the world and made each one of us proud,” he added.

However, the legend’s younger sister singer Sudakshina Sarma on Tuesday appealed that the Bharat Ratna conferred on the ‘bard of Brahmaputra’ posthumously shouldn’t be politicised in wake of protests against the Citizenship Bill.

“Bhupen da deserves the honour. If alive, he would have been elated on being conferred with the country’s highest civilian award. It makes me sad that so much politics revolve around the issue today. The family should accept the award,” Sarma said.

Commenting about her nephew Tez Hazarika‘s comment, she said, “Well…he has not consulted us about the award.”

Opposing the contentious bill, Sarma said, “The Bill, if passed, will bring disaster to the state. I vehemently oppose it. I request the BJP government to not pass it.”

On the other hand, Manisha Hazarika, wife of Bhupen’s late brother and popular singer Jayanta Hazarika, emphasised that the bard was an institution. “He (Bhupen Hazarika) is above politics. He took Assam to the world and hence has been honoured with the highest civilian award.”

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