The Indian shooters were left stranded at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport since the early hours of Tuesday as the Customs department took more than 12 hours to clear their shooting equipment.
The 13 shooters which included the likes of Gurpreet Singh, Chain Singh and Kynan Chenai were on their return from the Grand Prix of Liberation shooting championship in Czech Republic and the ISSF World Cup in Cyprus .
When the shooters approached the customs for clearance, they were told that they couldn’t take their shooting equipment out of the airport and were asked to wait for a senior officer. Several hours passed and shooters kept waiting at the airport without any reply from the customs department.
Speaking to indianshooting.com, Gurpreet Singh said, “I have been travelling for international competitions for many years now but have never ever faced a problem like this. Before leaving for the competition, as a normal practice we got the serial numbers of our guns stamped by the customs. Strangely on our return the customs department refused to clear our guns.”
“When we inquired, the officials told us they had been directed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to not clear the guns and only they (DRI) would clear them,” said Arjuna awardee Gurpreet Singh, who won the team gold in 25m standard pistol at the Grand Prix.
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 the guns.
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 3 pm and an hour later the customs got the green signal to clear the equipment.
Saddened to hear that the National Shooting Team is detained at The IGI Airport with the customs refusing to clear their guns. 1/3
— Abhinav Bindra (@Abhinav_Bindra) May 9, 2017
Shooters held up at IGI airport for no valid reason or any fault of theirs. Dats d price v pay for always following d rules. been 10 hrs now
— Heena SIDHU (@HeenaSidhu10) May 9, 2017
Is this the way to treat our Olympians? This is mental torture before major tournament. I know how bad it feels as this has happened before.
— Anjali Bhagwat (@AnjaliOlympian) May 9, 2017
The shooters won 15 medals at the Grand Prix of Liberation shooting championship in Czech Republic and will now be participating in the ISSF World Cup in Munich from 17th May.