The son of music legend Bhupen Hazarika today said his statement earlier this week on his father receiving the Bharat Ratna was misinterpreted. Tej Hazarika, who is based in the US, had said in a statement that he was not happy on how the government planned to pass the "painfully unpopular" Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was against his father's beliefs and position.
"The government of India has graciously extended me an invitation to accept the Bharat Ratna for my father. It is a tremendous honour, for me and my family to be invited by the GOI to accept the Bharat Ratna on behalf of my late father. It will be my dreamlike privilege to receive it for my father and his fans and followers everywhere," Tej Hazarika said in a statement today, according to news agency ANI.
Bhupen Hazarika has been named for the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award, along with former President Pranab Mukherjee and Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh.
In his latest statement, the son of the music legend said, "It is unfortunate that (some) people would completely misinterpret my public statement dated 11th February 2019 regarding the Bharat Ratna itself by sadly misrepresenting my view of it."
Tej Hazarika's statement earlier this week that the Bharat Ratna for his father was "a display of short lived cheap thrills" was seen as lashing out at the government over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 -- a proposed law to grant citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants.
Not everyone in the family, however, had agreed with him. Bhupen Hazarika's brother Samar Hazarika said in Assam he was "not in touch" with Tej. "This award should be given to Bhupen. It's too late now," he had said.
The maestro's sister-in-law Manisha Hazarika also agreed: "Being a member of the Bhupen Hazarika family I am saying that this award is one of the most respected awards of this nation and Bhupen Da is a legendary figure. He is above politics, so raking up this controversy is wrong."
The citizenship Bill, one of the key projects of the government, proposes smoother and quicker grant of citizenship to non-Muslim illegal migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years' stay in India. However, there have been widescale protests against it throughout the northeast.
The Bill was listed to come up in the Rajya Sabha this week, but it never came up for discussions and eventually lapsed.
Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram and Manipur, have seen protests ever since the controversial Bill was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha in January. The protests have spiked particularly in Assam, where the inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh is a huge social and political issue.