Bhupen Hazarika's brother Samar says family will accept Bharat Ratna, day after son Tej declines honour over citizenship bill row

Assamese singer Bhupen Hazarika's brother Samar on Tuesday said his family would "graciously accept" the Bharat Ratna that was conferred to him by the Narendra Modi government on Republic Day, a day after Bhupen's son Tej turned down the award in protest against Centre's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Samar Hazarika told Firstpost that their family is "grateful for the Bharat Ratna" and sought to clarify that Tej's comment was "misinterpreted". "The family is not declining Bharat Ratna," Samar said.

According to media reports, Tej, who is based in the US, expressed concerns over the citizenship bill and rejected the award.

File image of Bhupen Hazarika. PTI

File image of Bhupen Hazarika. PTI

"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," Tej had said.

Samar said the family feels the same way about the Bill. "We as family feel the same way about this unpopular move (to pass the bill in the Lok Sabha). The government needs to have safeguards for indigenous people. However, these two issues, (the Bharat Ratna and the Citizenship bill) are separate and should not be politicised," he added.

Hazarika was posthumously conferred the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour along with social activist Nanaji Deshmukh on Republic Day. Former president Pranab Mukherjee was also conferred with the award.

Earlier in February, renowned Manipuri film director Aribam Syam Sharma made an announcement to return the Padma Shri, that was conferred on him in 2006, in view of Modi's government's Citizenship Bill, reported India Today.

Prime Minister Narendra had met with protests during his two-day visit in North East India on last Saturday to launch/ inaugurate myriad developmental projects in the states.

Assam's student unions groups raised slogans against the proposed legislation and waved black flags in protest as Modi arrived in Guwahati on Friday evening.

However, the prime minister defended the bill and said that his government wanted to free the country of infiltrators.

Sparking several protests across the region, most northeastern states have opposed the controversial legislation. Political outfits in the region, including allies of the BJP, the ruling party at the Centre, have also unanimously opposed the bill.

The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document.

It was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session on 8 January and has been awaiting Rajya Sabha nod.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 14:20:43 IST

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