The multi-faceted cultural icon of Assam, Bhupen Hazarika, has finally been conferred the ‘Bharat Ratna’, India’s highest civilian award, and yet the rumblings of rebellion that have begun in the state ever since PM Modi’s announcement regarding the amendment of the Citizenship Bill at a mass rally in Silchar. Perhaps it is so because the award comes at a time when the entire Northeast is staging protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Detractors of the BJP government have alleged that Hazarika was conferred the Bharat Ratna to placate the masses who have mobilized against the proposed Bill.
An FIR has been filed, in fact, against the modern-day Assam heart throb Zubeen Garg after a short clip emerged of the singer where he cussed out the Bharat Ratna after warning that ‘politics nokoriba bondhu’ (do not do politics, my friend). No video evidence has emerged. The FIR was lodged in Lanka in Hojai district by Assam BJP functionary Satya Ranjan Borah.
It is to be mentioned that Zubeen has recently become one of the most vocal opposers of the Bill and in recent days, he has participated in the ‘Bajra Ninad’ (thunderous voice) protest as well as the AGP hunger strike.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjan Kharge has also expressed disappointment over Hazarika’s ‘Bharat Ratna’ and stated that Shivakumara Swami, a spiritual leader who passed away on January 21 should have instead been conferred the honour. He also slammed Nanaji Deshmukh, one of the other awardees, alleging that he propagated the BJP’s “RSS ideology”.
Bhupen Hazarika’s ‘Bharat Ratna’ has come at a time when the entire Northeast region is in a state of chaos and even Xudhakontho’s honour is not enough to douse the flames of dissent in the region.
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