GUWAHATI: The family of Bhupen Hazarika, who was conferred the Bharat Ratna on Republic Day, has said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill “far outweighs” the country’s highest civilian award bestowed upon the legendary singer. Tez Hazarika, the musician’s New York-based son, said, “I go on record here to answer that I have not received any invitation so far, (so) there is nothing to reject, and how the Centre moves on this matter (bill) far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition-a display of short-lived cheap thrills.”

Tez’s reaction comes two days after PM Narendra Modi supported the Centre’s stand on the bill during his visit to Guwahati, Itanagar and Agartala. He had said the amended Act would not hurt the interests of the people of the northeast.

Tez, in a statement, said, “I believe 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 Bhupenda believed in his heart of hearts.” He said Bharat Ratnas and longest bridges (Dhola-Sadiya bridge re-named Bhupen Hazarika Setu) are necessary but would not promote peace and prosperity of Indians.

He added, “Only just popular laws and foresight on the part of leadership will.” Tez further said, “For his fans – a… 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 feared that adopting any form of bill that has the potential to disrupt the “language, and identity and power balance” of the northeast amounts to undermining his father’s position.

Other members of the family, however, held views different from those of Tez. Sudakshina Sarma, Bhupen’s sister, said, “We are nobody to accept or reject the award as Bhupenda is the son of the soil not only for Assam, but for the northeast as well as India. Bhupenda would have been happy if the award had been given during his lifetime.”

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