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'Search’ for Bhupen Hazarika's Bharat Ratna in Assam

Hazarika’s son Tej received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind on August 8 and returned to Canada on Thursday

By A Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 17.08.19, 1:29 AM
  • Updated 17.08.19, 1:29 AM
  • a min read
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Tej receives the Bharat Ratna on behalf of his father Bhupen Hazarika Telegraph picture

Controversy has erupted in Assam on the whereabouts of the Bharat Ratna, awarded posthumously to music maestro Bhupen Hazarika.

Hazarika’s son Tej received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind on August 8 and returned to Canada on Thursday after spending four days in Assam. During his interaction with the media or through social media, Tej expressed happiness to receive the award but did not elaborate where it would be kept.

Sources said Tej rejected an invitation by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal for a meeting on Wednesday.

A journalist of a local television channel filed an FIR in Dispur police station on Friday seeking an inquiry on the whereabouts of the award. In his FIR, Lenin Sourav Borah said the award is a national property of the Assamese people which has not been submitted to Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra by Tej.

The Kalakshetra houses the souvenirs and belongings of Hazarika in a museum. On Thursday, it wrote to the cultural affairs department urging it to initiate steps so that the award can be preserved in its museum.

“We have received the letter. We will start the process,” Preetam Saikia, commissioner and secretary, cultural affairs department, told The Telegraph on Friday. So far there has not been any communication between the department and Hazarika’s family members on the issue, he added.

Manjula Hazarika, joint secretary of the Bhupen Hazarika Cultural Trust, told a television channel that in 2007 Hazarika in a message wished a museum would be constructed at the Kalakshetra where all his souvenirs and other belongings would be preserved.

Hazarika’s nephew Dawor told a news channel, “He (Tej) told me that it was in safe keeping. He said he would keep the award in Assam so that people can see it.”