Front cover of the Indian Passport हिन्दी: भार...

Front cover of the Indian Passport हिन्दी: भारतीय पासपोर्ट മലയാളം: ഇന്ത്യയുടെ പാസ്പോര്‍ട്ട്‌ Türkçe: Hint pasaportu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HUBBALLI: As many 64 dalit artistes are unlikely to perform at the 9th AKKA World Kannada Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey, after the US Consulate in Chennai denied visas to them owing to delay in the issue of permit documents by the Kannada and culture department. The convention is scheduled from September 2 to 4.
It is being alleged that the department had raised objections to sending 90 artistes, sponsored by the social welfare department, because of certain differences between its ministers. The artistes for the convention were chosen by a committee led by Srinivas Kappanna.

Dhimant R, a member of Shivasanchar theatre group in Chitradurga, told TOI that 15 members of his team have lost out on the golden opportunity. “The consulate office generally calls applicants for interviews a week in advance. Since the convention starts on September 2, we don’t think we will be called,” he said.

Irked by the government’s indecision, Dhimant said, “In the beginning, it was announced that 100 dalit artistes would be sent to AKKA convention. We are now realizing that it was just an eyewash to showcase its concern towards the community.”

The group’s manager, B Raju Lakkamuttenahalli said that they have given up hopes of obtaining a visa. “The delay in issuing a permit by Kannada and culture department has created this hurdle. After obtaining permission from the department, we had even paid Rs 2.12 lakh to the travel agent,” he said.

A theatre artiste from Dharwad, Sadanand Kale said that dalit artistes never harboured dreams of going abroad. “However, the social welfare department gave us this opportunity, and now, we have missed out on it,” he added.

On condition of anonymity, another artiste said, “We had less than a fortnight to apply for our visas. The US embassy could not give us appointments, since their calendar was booked.”

Kannada and culture minister Umashree and social welfare department minister H Anjaneya were unavailable for comments.