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Shooter Manu Bhaker accuses Delhi airport officials of ‘treating her like criminal’, Air India refutes allegation as Minister Kiren Rijiju steps in: Details

Seeking help from Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Manu Bhaker said that Air India's officials stopped her and treated her "like a criminal" because she was carrying guns and ammunitions for training at the MP Shooting Academy.

Indian Olympian and shooter Manu Bhaker was allegedly refused permission to board an Air India flight from Delhi on Friday after officials stopped and asked her to pay extra charges for carrying and ammunitions.

Taking to Twitter, Manu Bhaker narrated her ordeal, saying she was not being allowed to board flight AI 437 at IGI Delhi by Air India’s officials, who allegedly asked her Rs. 10,200. Despite all valid documentation and DGCA permit, she said, an official named Manoj Gupta and other airline staff humiliated her.

Seeking help from Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Manu Bhaker said that Air India’s officials stopped her and treated her “like a criminal” because she was carrying guns and ammunitions for training at the MP Shooting Academy.

In her tweet, the 19-year-old added, “At least don’t insult players every time and please don’t ask for money.”

The shooter alleged that officials asked her to pay money at the airport despite having all documents in place and permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to carry the weapons. 

Responding to the allegations, Air India said that the officials at Delhi Airport had only sought her valid documents for verification as per rules for the carriage of her weapon on board.

“In absence of the same, legitimate specified charges for the arms were conveyed to you. No one sought a ‘bribe’ as has been alleged. You were issued a boarding pass on your assurance of furnishing valid documents before boarding,” Air India clarified.

The national carrier also said that she was immediately allowed to board the flight once the verification was carried out. “It may please be noted that Air India has always encouraged and respected Sportspersons and have many eminent sports legends working with us,” Air India responded.

However, Manu Bhaker rejected the clarification by Air India to say that Air India was trying to save culprits Manoj Gupta and a security person who had stopped her initially. “You will further damage the reputation of Air India,” said the 19-year-old shooter accusing Air India’s officials of snatching her mobile and deliberately deleting the images.

Bhaker, an ISSF World Cup gold-medallist, was later allowed to board the flight, who thanked Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju for his help. To which the minister replied saying, “You are India’s pride @realmanubhaker.”

Manu Bhaker, one of India’s topmost shooters, has secured a berth for Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 10m air pistol event. The Haryana-born shooter will be competing at the ISSF World Cup scheduled to be held from March 18 to 29 in New Delhi. She is part of the 10m women’s team, 25m women’s team and the 10m mixed team.

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