Octogenarian shooter Chandro Tomar, who became the oldest woman sharp shooter in the world after taking up the sport in her 60s, died on Friday after battling Covid-19. She was 89 and was being treated at a hospital in Meerut since April 26.

“She has left me, Chandro where have you gone?,” her sister-in-law Prakashi Tomar, who is also one of the oldest female sharp shooters, wrote on her Twitter page.

Tomar, who was nicknamed ‘Shooter Dadi’ for her exploits, was hospitalised after complaining of difficulty in breathing. Tests revealed she had contracted Covid-19.

Hailing from a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, Tomar was over 60 years when she picked up the gun for the first time. She went on to win many national competitions for veterans and her life inspired the Bollywood movie Saand ki Aankh.

Tomar was 15 when she got married and took to shooting after she was well over 65.

It all started with a chance visit to a shooting club when her grand-daughter expressed a desire to pursue the sport. Tomar picked up the gun and took a shot while at the club and hit the bull’s eye, impressing the club coach.

Tomar went on to take part in several competitions along with her sister-in-law Prakashi, who was also depicted in the movie inspired by their lives.

While the men at home objected to their shooting, they were helped by their sons, daughters-in-law, granddaughters and daughters, including active trap shooter Seema Tomar, as they would quietly sneak out of the house to practice the sport at a nearby range.

Many prominent people condoled her death, including sports minister Kiren Rijiju and actor Bhumi Pednekar, who played her in the biopic.

Olympians – boxer Akhil Kumar, who personally knew Tomar, wrote: “...God, please have mercy. One more tragic news.. Winner of many national awards, the free-spirited dadi ‘Shooter Dadi’ Chandro Tomar has lost her battle with corona. My heartfelt condolences and tributes.”

“The courage with which she fought patriarchy and popularised shooting, will inspire generations to come. May god bless her soul and give strength to her family,” said Olympic-bound shooter Sanjeev Rajput in his tribute.

With PTI Inputs