New York: Tej Hazarika, son of famed Assamese singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika, has said he has been invited by the Indian government to accept the Bharat Ratna on behalf of his late father and it will be his "tremendous honour" to receive the country's highest civilian award.
"The Government of India has graciously extended me an invitation to accept the Bharat Ratna for my father. He sacrificed much and devoted selflessly to the cause of a united and progressive India and now he is being recognized for that with this well-deserved award," Tej Hazarika said in a statement issued to PTI in New York.
He said it is a "tremendous honor, for me and my family to be invited" by the Indian government to accept the Bharat Ratna on behalf of his 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," the statement quoted Tez Hazarika as saying.
On the controversy over his remarks made on February 11 through a Facebook post, Tej Hazarika said, "It is unfortunate that (some) people would completely misinterpret my public February 11th statement regarding the Bharat Ratna itself by sadly misrepresenting my view of it."
During the Citizenship Bill protests in Assam, Bhupen Hazarika’s son had compared the bestowing of Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the late singer as “short-lived cheap thrills”. Tej, however, stopped short of turning down the honour.
“I have not received any invitation so far 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,” Tej Hazarika had said in a statement accessed by CNN-News18.
In the Facebook post, Tej had said that his father's name and words are being invoked and celebrated publicly while plans are afoot to pass a "painfully unpopular" Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that is "actually undermining his documented position. It would, in reality, be in direct opposition to what Bupenda believed in his heart of hearts".
The BJP-led NDA government had brought the bill to grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It had triggered massive protests across the Northeast with many organisations and parties claiming that it would have a negative impact on the demography of the region.
Tej Hazarika said, "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 family in India.
"By upbringing, and through informed reflection, I have always had the highest regard for the Indian republic, its vast diversity and its noble institution of recognizing its 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."