New Delhi : Veteran actor Anupam Kher, who was to attend the Karachi Literature Festival which begins on Friday, has been denied a Pakistani visa for the second time. While 17 out of the 18 Indians who were due to go received their visas, the 60-year-old says he was “singled out” and described it as “sad”.
A Pakistani diplomat, however, said that he had “not submitted” any visa application — a claim that the actor has called a “lie”. It was in May last year that the actor was first denied a visa to Pakistan. He was to visit Lahore for an event hosted by an NGO, but according to reports, it was denied to him on security grounds.
This time, he was invited as a guest at the three-day Karachi Literature Festival. Among the Indians who will be present at the literature festival are Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Rahul Singh, Om Arora, Urvashi Butalia and Ashok Chopra. However, Manzoor Ali Memon, a diplomat from the Pakistan High Commission, was adamant: “He (Anupam Kher) has not submitted (any) visa application. Please check out from him if he has any receipt.”
Upset about the visa denial, Anupam tweeted: “Has my visa been denied because I speak about India’s rich tradition of tolerance or I am a Kashmiri Pandit who may expose Pak terror nexus? Indian government welcomes Pakistan based writers, artists, actors etc. Pakistan government bans entry of Indian actors. Why fear a free dialogue,” he tweeted.
“Didn’t Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs red flag my name to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi? Why hide facts? Pakistan High Commission should know their rules. The Karachi Literature Festival organizers had given my name to authorities one month back and have my name in every poster.”
Even his son, actor Sikandar Kher, said that his father’s uninhibited views on numerous social and political issues could have ruffled feathers and could be the reason why the veteran actor, who has been chosen for a Padma Bhushan, was denied a Pakistan visa.
Anupam, who was feeling “bad for all those people who were looking forward to meet me in Pakistan and vice versa”, even said he will present all proofs and documents “to prove Pakistan High Commission’s lie that I didn’t apply for visa”.