India’s shooting team detained at Delhi’s IGI airport for 13 hours after their guns are confiscated
The customs department did not clear the guns and made the 12 sportspersons wait without giving them a reason for their detention.
India’s 12-member shooting team, which includes Olympian shooters Gurpreet Singh and Kynan Chenai, were on Tuesday detained at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport for 13 hours by the customs department, The Times of India reported. The customs department refused to clear the shooters’ guns and asked them to stay back at the airport without giving them a reason for their detention.
The Indian team was returning after participating in the Plzen shooting Grand Prix.
“After a 20-hour flight, we arrived at the airport at 4 am, the department didn’t clear our weapons and said we will have to wait for the customs commissioner,” a shooter was quoted as saying in the report. “He was supposed to arrive at 10 am, but he didn’t come, and we didn’t get any clarity from the officials present on duty. We still don’t know the reason we have been detained.”
The sportsperson alleged that officials were rude to the team and did not offer them any food throughout their detention. “We were sleep deprived, hungry. When we told this to the officer there, he said ‘you won’t die if you don’t eat’.”
He added that when the team went to Plzen, the same department had issued them stamped letters with the guns’ serial numbers. “We have the same guns and the letters. We don’t have even a screw extra, but they don’t trust their own letters.”
The report cited sources as stating that international shooters are under scrutiny after a few national shooters were arrested for smuggling illegal pistols last week.
After the incident, India’s ace shooter and the country’s lone Olympic gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra heavily criticised the customs officials for not respecting the country’s premier athletes.
When asked why the shooters were made to wait for such a long time, additional commissioner at IGIA, Amandeep Singh said they were waiting for clearance from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence’s clearance. “We had to clear some things with the revenue department and hence the delay in clearing the shooters’ guns,” Singh said.