On the heels of the allegations of conflict of interest involving chief pistol coach, Mohinder Lal, who was also the government observer for the sport, comes another incident.
The joint general secretary of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Jagmeet Singh Sethi, is also the promoter of Sportzcraft, a private body which has been granted affiliation by the NRAI to train candidates as coaches for beginners in air weapons.
The certificates are signed by Avtar Sethi, Jagmeet’s father and senior vice-president of the federation, and issued on the NRAI letterhead with no mention of Sportzcraft as the course organisers.
As per the Sportzcraft brochure, the course is for five days with a fee of `6000 per candidate. Outstation students have to shell out an additional `1000 for twin-sharing accommodation.
An application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking the “total amount received by the NRAI till now from such trainees” revealed the federation earns no revenue from Sportzcraft.
As per the RTI reply, the federation too does not have information regarding the taxes paid on the payment received for these courses, or the remuneration paid to the persons conducting the courses.
The NRAI chose to give recognition to Sportzcraft without bothering to know about the legal formation and its previous experience or record. The RTI reply only says, “It’s a non-profit organisation registered under various acts.”
The NRAI constitution states that in order to encourage training courses, “arrangements for making training instructors and jury referees should be made through NIS, Patiala, or any similar organisation in India or abroad.”
But this is not so in Sportzcraft’s case.
Speaking to HT, VK Dhall, NRAI vice-president and president of the Bengal Rifle Association said: “The money for ISSF judges and juries’ courses are not remitted to the state association conducting the course, but go directly to the NRAI because it is the national federation which is organising the courses.”
Going by that logic, Sportzcraft should also be depositing the money with the NRAI. But that’s not the case.
Arjuna award winner and Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, Ashok Pandit, who is also a senior Maharashtra State Rifle Association official, agreed. “Such things (training courses) should be undertaken by the NRAI directly. Outsourcing it to a private body is incorrect. I would say that if an exception has been made, then Maharashtra should also be given the opportunity to organise such courses.”
NRAI president Raninder Singh said the course being organised by Sportzcraft was only a “familiarisation course”. “The NRAI doesn’t have the resources to conduct such courses. Moreover, we are not helping them with pistols, rifles or pellets.”
On why Sportzcraft was not remitting the money to the NRAI account, as state associations do while organising ISSF courses on its behalf, Raninder said, “The ISSF is the mother organisation. The money for ISSF courses is collected by us and sent to ISSF. But in Sportzcraft’s case, it’s not our satellite organisation.”