Pakistani author Kanza Javed scheduled to launch her debut novel at the ongoing Kumaon literary festival in India has been denied a visa to enter the country at the 11th hour.
“I had submitted all documents three weeks ago. I only heard from the Indian High Commission last afternoon about my visa being denied. I wasn’t given a reason, and I did not ask them either. It was very insulting for me. I have always received support from across the border. I am stunned,” Kanza told Times of India over phone from Lahore.
Oddly, the author’s father and brother who were meant to accompany her to the five-day festival being held at Dhanachuli village and Nainital in Uttarakhand have been granted a visa.
Kanza’s book ‘Ashes, Wine and Dust’ was set for a launch in India. The book’s manuscript was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013 when she was just 21. Kanza says she has travelled to India before in 2013.
Festival organiser Sumant Batra was optimistic and hoped it to be just a ‘delay.’ The organiser said that officials at the Indian High Commission in Pakistan had assured him all help. “There is a chance it is just a delay, so we can put off her session for another day if the visa comes through,” he said, adding that if the author is unable to travel to India before the festival ended, a Skype session might be organised with her.
On the other hand, two other Pakistani guests, journalist Asif Noorani and publisher Ameena Saiyid, received a warm welcome from Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat at the festival. Touched, Noorani rose from his chair and said he did not feel like he was in a different country. Noorani and Saiyid were unaware of the circumstances under which Kanza’s visa was refused.