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Rifle Association’s selections reek of bias, hypocrisy

Abhinav Bindra’s absence in the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) graded contracted system is just the most apparent lapse, it’s hardly the only one, reports Saurabh Duggal.

other Updated: Nov 14, 2009 22:47 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Abhinav Bindra’s absence in the National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) graded contracted system is just the most apparent lapse, it’s hardly the only one.

Kynan Chenai, who won a gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Pune last year, has more national and international accomplishments than Shresyasi Singh. And yet the latter is placed in the higher slab — Rs 12 lakh per year — while Chenai gets Rs six lakh per year.

Shresyasi also happens to be the daughter of the NRAI

president Digvijay Singh. “Shresyasi is a good shooter and she has shown potential by winning gold in a junior tournament in Finland,” explains NRAI

secretary-general Baljit Singh Sethi. What Sethi does not say is that the medal came at an invitational event. These have about seven to eight nations only in the fray.

“There is no preference given to her because she is the daughter of NRAI president. Moreover, Sahara selected the shooters and placed them in slabs.” But Sahara, in their press release regarding the deal with NRAI, quoted Sethi as saying that the selection of shooters was based on recommendations from NRAI.

The double-speak apart, a host of established names, and young shooters who have done well at recent international competitions have been ignored.

To name a few, Lajja Goswani, who made it for the World Cup Finals (only the top-10 shooters in the world compete), four-time Olympian Mansher Singh and Asian silver-medallist in skeet Arti Singh Rao have not been given any contracts.

“NRAI has demotivated us by ignoring the deserving ones,” said Mansher. “What the federation wants is that we should stop shooting.”

Rao, who is the most decorated Indian shooter in women’s shotgun, said the federation was “accommodating” the people of their choice.

“We are not opposing the juniors or any other names in the contract system. But if we are better than them, why are we not included too?” asked Rao.

The discrepancy in selection is quite stark.

While the NRAI’s official stand is that they have considered recent performances of some shooters, some of the names in the list don’t quite qualify. 2006 Commonwealth Games’ best sportsperson, Samresh Jung skipped almost all the major tournaments this year.

Athens silver-medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has not much to show for last year.

But they still have been included.

To this Sethi said that, while the NRAI had short-listed 30-35 shooters for the scheme, Sahara picked the final 15.

“We have spoken to Sahara and will be forwarding four-five more names and try to get them the contracts also,” he added.

Whether or not that comes about, NRAI’s handling of the issue has been anything but transparent.