Assamese music legend Bhupen Hazarika’s son on Monday strongly criticized the centre over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, and called the government’s move to award his father with the Bharat Ratna “a display of short lived cheap thrills”. Tez Hazarika, in a statement from the US, where he lives, said he was unhappy how the centre planned to pass the “painfully unpopular” Bill which was against his father’s beliefs and 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,” Tez Hazarika said. 

Bhupen Hazarika was announced as this year’s recipient of the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, along with former President Pranab Mukherjee and Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh. In May 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also named India’s longest bridge after Bhupen Hazarika, the 9.15 km long Dhola-Sadiya bridge over Brahmaputra, in Assam.

“I go on record here to answer that A), I have not received any invitation so far there is nothing to reject, and B), 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,” Tez Hazarika’s scathing statement added.

The citizenship Bill, one of the key projects of the government, proposes a smoother and quicker grant of citizenship to illegal migrants from the minority communities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years’ stay in India. However, there have been widescale protests against it throughout the northeast.

The Bill has been listed to come up in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. It will be moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. 

The states in the northeast including Meghalaya, Assam, Mizoram and Manipur, have been seeing wide scale protests ever since the controversial Bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha in January. The protests have spiked particularly in Assam, where inflow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh is a huge social and political issue.


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