The UK Home Office has said the visa application of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was refused because it did not meet the requirements of Britain’s immigration rules.
The 70-year-old Khan said on Friday he was “shocked and appalled” that his application for the visa to perform at a festival in London had been rejected.
Khan, who has been a regular fixture in Britain’s cultural calendar since the 1970s, was scheduled to perform during the Darbar festival at the Southbank Centre on September 17 and 18.
A Home Office spokesperson told Hindustan Times: “All visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, and applicants must provide evidence to show they meet the requirements of the immigration rules. On this occasion we were not satisfied that Mr Khan met the requirements of his visa.”
No more details were provided. The government department is responsible for immigration and counter-terrorism, among other areas.
But senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is also the chairman of the influential Home Affairs Committee of parliament, said he was ‘astonished’ at the refusal and had asked the Home Office for an explanation and reversal of the refusal.
The Southbank Centre said it was working to resolve the issue to ensure that Khan could perform on schedule.
According to the programme, he will reflect on his 50-year career during a “candid conversation” accompanied by his wife, Subhalakshmi Barua Khan.
A Southbank Centre spokesperson said: “It is extremely unfortunate that Amjad Ali Khan has been refused a short-term visa to come and perform at Southbank Centre, which we understand is due to a recent change in the visa’s guidelines.”
“We are working closely to try to rectify this situation and are hopeful that he will be able to perform on 17 September at the Royal Festival Hall as planned. Amjad Ali Khan is one of many international artists that Southbank Centre in partnership with the Darbar Festival prides itself on bringing to London.”
There are reports that the recent changes had made securing a UK visa a more complex and onerous task. Seeking easier and cheaper visa facilities for Indians, the Royal Commonwealth Society recently called for Britain extending a visa pilot project underway in China to India.