Music maestro late Bhupen Hazarika, former President Pranab Mukherjee and Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader late Nanaji Deshmukh were on Friday conferred the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna.
In an official statement, the government said Deshmukh and Hazarika were conferred the award posthumously. Mukherjee was President between 2012 and 2017.
Hazarika is the second from Assam, after the state’s first chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi, to have been honoured with Bharat Ratna which is conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order” without distinction of race, occupation, position or gender.
People in Assam have been demanding Bharat Ratna for Hazarika whose songs have mesmerised, inspired and guided generations. The demand got intensified when the singer-cum-film director passed away on November 5, 2011 at the age of 85.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing happiness, tweeted: “The songs and music of Bhupen Hazarika are admired by people across generations. From them radiates the message of justice, harmony and brotherhood. He popularised India’s musical traditions globally. Happy that the Bharat Ratna has been conferred on Bhupen Da”.
However, many wished that the award had been conferred on the singer during his lifetime.
Raveena Tandon, who had acted in Daman, whose music was composed by Hazarika, tweeted in reply to Modi’s tweet, “Rightly so... though I wish these honours are conferred onto some people while they are still alive.”
Daman was directed by Hazarika’s long-time partner Kalpana Lajmi who had approached the Centre to confer Bharat Ratna on Hazarika. Lajmi died in September last year.
“Bhupenda would have been very happy if he had got the award when he was alive although his works cannot be measured merely by awards. Today I am also missing Kalpana Lajmi who had done so much for him. She had pursued the matter with the Centre. She should have been here today,” said Manisha Hazarika, Bhupen’s sister in law.