Bhupen Hazarika’s son calls decision of conferring Bharat Ratna a ‘display of short-lived cheap thrills’

New Delhi: Recently, the Bharat Ratna — India’s highest civilian award — was conferred posthumously on Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika, but his family seemed to be divided on the matter of accepting the award on his behalf.

His son Tej Hazarika rejected the honour on Monday protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. However, the singer’s brother, Samar, said Tej had taken the decision without consulting him, as per PTI reports. “It is his decision, not mine. Anyway, I think he (Bhupen) should get it. It is already too late,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

“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 via 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 also said that 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 Bhupenda believed in his heart of hearts”.

On the other hand Samar Hazarika said the matter should not be politicised, as per a Hindustan Times report, “It is his [Tej Hazarika’s] decision and he has not discussed or conveyed it to us.”

“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,” Samar Hazarika added.

Manisha, wife of Bhupen Hazarika’s deceased brother Jayanta Hazarika, said, “This award is not just for the family. It belongs to entire Northeast and the rest of the country.”

Contrary to all this, Hrishikesh Goswami, the media advisor to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, said Bhupen Hazarika’s family has already accepted the award. “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.”

(With inputs from Agencies)