In the most crucial year for Indian sportspersons, ace rifle shooter Joydeep Karmakar has been dealt a crushing blow. After disembarking off the Lufthansa flight, on his return from the US, where he participated in the World Cup at Fort Benning, he found his gun damaged beyond repair.
“When I opened the gun case at the Delhi airport on June 3, I found the gun broken into two. With the trials for the World Championships, Commonwealth and Asian Games just a week away in Pune, I don’t know what to do,” said the desperate rifle-prone shooter from Kolkata, who recently won the World Cup silver at Sydney and is the country’s best bet in the Commonwealth Games in his category.
“The gun case has definitely been mishandled by the airline. A heavy weight was probably put on it,” said the Asian and national record holder.
“I am also upset at the way I was treated when I tried to lodge a complaint. The staff tried to avoid me and kept passing the buck. But I persisted. A senior Lufthansa official even said: ‘Go back to Kolkata and lodge a complaint with the customer care there’.”
“I called them up on Thursday but they said their system was being upgraded. A new gun would cost me nearly $4,500 (Rs 2.10 lakh) but a customer care official whom I contacted in Delhi said the airline would not pay more than euro 1,200 (Rs 68,000) and that too after approval. He then started using aviation jargon, which I didn’t understand.”
The cost of the gun apart, it takes years to get used to it. “It’s not that I’ll get used to the new gun immediately. Each gun is tailor-made and one has to sit with the manufacturer while it is being customised. One has to keep practicing with it for months to get used to it,” said the five-time national champ.
Lufthansa official Ketika Manohar told HT that it regretted the inconvenience caused to Karmarkar. “The airline is carrying out the necessary investigation. The full satisfaction of its customers is of utmost importance for Lufthansa. But it will take some time to find out and validate all the facts.”