CHANDIGARH The Indian shooting contingent, which won 15 medals at the recent Grand Prix of Liberation championships in Czech Republic, was stranded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport since the early hours of Tuesday as the Customs department took more than 12 hours to clear their weapons.
When the squad approached the Customs for clearance, they were told that they couldn’t take their weapons out of the airport.
“I have been competing at the international level for the last 10 years and such a thing has never happened. Before leaving for the Czech Republic we got our arms and ammunition cleared from the Customs but when we got back we were told that they (Customs) were going to detain the weapons,” said Arjuna awardee Gurpreet Singh, who won the team gold in 25m standard pistol at the Grand Prix.
“When we inquired, the officials told us they had been directed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to not clear weapons and only they (DRI) would clear them,” he added.
The move is in the light of a recent incident where foreign arms and ammunition were seized from the residence of a former national-level shooter. After that, the DRI has directed the Customs not to clear weapons.
After the shooters, including two Arjuna awardees and three Olympians, contacted an officer and apprised him of the situation, a fax was sent to DRI around 3pm and an hour later the Customs got the green signal to clear the weapons.
“Had Customs done this earlier we would have got clearance well in time. Some of the shooters are in their teens and they had a tough time spending 12 hours without proper meals,” said Harpreet Singh, who won three medals, including two silver.
“The Customs officials gave us the option to collect our weapons after 2-3 days when they were cleared by DRI. We couldn’t have done so as we are travelling to Munich on May 16 for the World Cup and can’t miss training for a day,” he added.