Bollywood actor Anupam Kher on Tuesday was denied a visa by the Pakistan High Commission to visit the country, for security reasons.
Kher was due to visit Pakistan to attend the Karachi Literary Festival on February 5 as a distinguished guest.
Pakistan High Commission's head of media Manzoor Memon said, "Mr Anupum Kher has never submitted visa application to Pakistan High Commission....Please check out from him if he has any receipt."
Incidentally, the actor was one of the 18 Indians invited to the four-day festival by the organisers but he is the only one whose visa has not been cleared. The other 17 Indian participants have been given visas.
Kher, who has just been honoured with Padma Bhushan by the Indian government, was to participate in at least two sessions and his name figured prominently in the festival schedule.
Confirming that he has not been issued a visa, Kher told PTI here today that he was very saddened by the development as he was looking forward to participate in the festival and use the platform to dispel misunderstandings in the minds of people there.
"We welcome their artistes in India. If there are objections to their performance at one place in India they are welcome at other places. But there is no reciprocity," he said.
As to why his visa has not been issued, Kher said, "I wish I knew. I am wondering if it is because I am a Kashmiri Pandit or because of my views on the tolerance debate in India."
Kher said the visa denial has left the festival organisers embarrassed and they have apologised to him.
This is not the first time that the actor has been denied a visa to visit Pakistan. In May 2015, an NGO had invited him for an event in Lahore but a visa was denied to him on security grounds.
Kher had then told PTI, "I was supposed to go but I have been told by my promoters there that it is not happening due to some technical reasons."