Ace shooters Jitu Rai and Vijay Kumar, are caught in a catch-22 situation. This is because of the ongoing tussle between the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the Indian Army, which has ordered 14 of it’s shooters to immediately report back for the selections trials for the World Military Games.
As many as country’s 70 elite shooters are in Thiruvananthapuram preparing for the season’s last ISSF World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan, from August 6 to 16. This will also double up as the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifiers. But the 14 Army marksmen at the national camp are facing a difficult time following the order from their employer.
These shooters include Asian Games gold medallist Jitu Rai, London Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar, 2010 Delhi CWG gold medallists Gurpreet Singh among others. The Army wants to hold selection trials for the Military Games on July 2, while the national camp will conclude on July 6. The Army officials have written to the NRAI to relieve these shooters from the national camp.
The NRAI has, however, refused to do so. It has made it clear to the Army that it won’t allow the shooters to leave the camp mid-way, especially when it has already paid for their stay in a five-star hotel.
India’s star shooters were in the town for the selection trials for the ISSF World Cup in Azerbaijan. After the trials, the selected shooters were asked by the NRAI to report for a two-week long national camp. This caught the Army officials unaware as they were expecting their shooters back in Delhi for the Military Games selection trials.
“The Army told us about their selection trials at the last minute. The NRAI’s schedule was clear — the shooters had to report for the camp after the trials. The Army didn’t inform us in advance about their trials, otherwise we could have worked out something. The NRAI has requested the Army to postpone their trials by a week so that their shooters can report to them after July 6,” an NRAI official said.
The NRAI has told the Army that if it wants its shooters for the selection trials, then it should pay the full amount spent on their hotel bookings and travel arrangements. “We have instructed our national coaches not to relieve the shooters,” the official added.
However, it has been learnt that the Army is considering taking its orders back following the tough stand taken by the NRAI. Also, the shooters, too, have requested the Army to allow them to continue at the camp.