Days after calling it “a short lived cheap thrills,” Bhupen Hazarika’s son Tej on Friday said it would be his "dreamlike privilege to receive" the Bharat Ratna for his late father.
“It is a tremendous honor, for me and my family to be invited by the government of India 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. As always, I will strive to follow in my father’s footsteps to work to bring light where there is darkness,” Tej Hazarika said in his statement emailed to DH.
Narendra Modi-led government on January 26 announced Bharat Ratna for music maestro Hazarika, former President Pranab Mukherjee and late Jan Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh.
Tej, a New York-based publisher and writer, however, stirred controversy on Monday, when he said that by bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Centre was undermining his father’s "documented position" on the protection of the indigenous identity of the Assamese people.
Although media reports initially said Tej declined to accept the award, he later clarified, “I have not received any invitation so far, so there is nothing to reject. And how the Center moves on this matter far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition—a display of short-lived cheap thrills.”
Tej’s reaction to the Bharat Ratna came amid strong agitation in Assam and rest of the Northeast against the bill. It seeks to allow persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who had migrated to India till December 2014 to apply for citizenship, after a stay of six years. Organisations representing indigenous people fears that the bill would reduce them into minorities—linguistically and politically by giving citizenship to “illegal migrants.” The bill was passed in Lok Sabha on January 8 but the Centre did not introduce it in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
“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 (so was my mother and my father and their parents), I have a family in India. By upbringing, and through informed reflection I have always had the highest regard for the Indian Republic, it’s vast diversity and its noble institution of recognizing it’s exceptional individuals from all backgrounds with civilian awards—the highest of them being the Bharat Ratna, recently announced for my father, the late Dr. Bhupen Hazarika,” he said.