Citizenship bill undermines Hazarika's position: son

Citizenship bill undermines Hazarika's position: son

Linking the NDA’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with this year’s Bharat Ratna posthumously conferred on cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika, his son Tej on Monday said the former was undermining his documented position.

“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. It would, in reality, be in direct opposition to what Bupenda believed in his heart of hearts,” Tej, a New York-based publisher and writer, said in a statement released to media organisations here on Monday evening.

The Narendra Modi-led government on January 26 announced Bharat Ratna for Hazarika, former president Pranab Mukherjee and the late social activist Nanaji Deshmukh.

Although media reports initially said Tej declined to accept the award, his statement said, “I have not received any invitation so far, so there is nothing to reject. And how the Centre moves on this matter far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition — a display of short-lived cheap thrills.”

This comes hours after the Centre listed the bill in the list of business in the Rajya Sabha for Tuesday, for its passage. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, amid strong agitation in Assam and the rest of the Northeast.

Organisations representing indigenous people across the Northeast fear that the bill would reduce them into minorities — linguistically and politically by giving citizenship to “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bill seeks to allow non-Muslim migrants, who had fled the three countries due to “religious persecution” and taken shelter in India till December 31, 2014, to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years.

“For his fans — a vast majority of people of the Northeast — and India’s great diversity including all indigenous populations of India, he would never have endorsed what appears, quite transparently, to be an underhanded way of pushing a law against the will and benefit of the majority in a manner that also seems to be grossly un-constitutional, un-democratic and un-Indian,” he said. 

“Bharat Ratnas and longest bridges, while necessary, will not promote the peace and prosperity of the citizens of India. Only just popular laws and foresight on the part of leadership will,” Tej’s statement said. 

“Adopting any form of this bill at this point in the manner in which it is being proffered, now or in the future, will ultimately have the sad and undesirable effect of not only disrupting the quality of life, language, identity and power balance of the region, but that of undermining my father’s position — by delivering a wreaking blow to the harmony, inner integrity and unity of the secular and democratic Republic of India.,” it said.