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20-odd shooters may pay for competing to 'kill boredom'

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By Navneet Singh

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) Some shooters who competed in unauthorised online competitions to “kill boredom” during the Covid-enforced lockdown last year could end up paying a heavy price for their transgression. To begin with, their identity cards have been blocked.

Without identity numbers no shooter can compete in any competition, as it is mandatory to submit that along with entry fee and match details to compete in domestic competitions, from state to nationals.

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The issue will be taken up at the parent shooting body, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), at its annual general body meeting here on Friday. A decision on those who transgressed — there are over 20 shooters — who competed in unauthorised competitions may be taken at the meeting.

Despite issuing a warning the shooters chose to compete in non-sanctioned competitions, pointed out NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia. “The governing body will decide what action should to be taken,” Bhatia told IANS.

The first shooters to be affected are two Delhi boys who might be denied entry to the Delhi State Shooting Championships starting on Monday in nearby Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.

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The Delhi State Rifle Association (DSRA) has turned down their requests for participation in the Delhi meet citing their blocked identity cards. “Without the consent of the NRAI we can’t entertain them. Even if there is a favourable decision, we have to check whether the system will accept the entries since everything is online and there is no procedure for manual entries,” DSRA secretary Rajiv Sharma told IANS.

The Identity number is also mandatory to submit entry fee along with match details to compete in all domestic tournaments.

Interestingly, the Delhi competition was supposed to on Friday, but it has been deferred by three days.

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“The air weapon competition was supposed to start on Friday, but it has now been shifted to Monday due to farmers’ protest at Ghazipur on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Saturday. This has been done to avoid unforeseen incident,” he said.

Besides national level shooters, some of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic quota winners, including rifle exponent Sanjeev Rajput and 10m air pistol shooter Manu Bhaker, had participated in the online events. There could be a few more international shooters who transgressed.

After the NRAI came to know of the unauthorised participation of shooters, it issued a circular warning shooters to not to compete in unofficial online competitions. But apparently some shooters participated even after the warning.

On the other hand, some of the shooters have apologised. But the NRAI is yet to grant them the pardon.

Sriharsha Devaraddi, a wheelchair-bound international para-shooter from Bengaluru, said he had participated in the online events to kill boredom during the lockdown.

“Since there was no competition at the ranges, I competed to kill boredom. Also, virtual events were a good platform for motivation as some of the shooters in the fray were foreigners,” 41-year-old Deveraddi, who is aiming to qualify for the 2021 Paralympics, told IANS.

“I’ve the Karnataka state competition from February 25. If NRAI doesn’t allow me to enter, it will be a big setback for me,” said Deveraddi, who trains at Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence.

Pawan Singh, co-founder of Pune-based Guns for Glory Academy, said he had taken approval from the NRAI to allow academy shooters to participate in online tournaments. “Lack of communication has put some shooters in an odd situation now,” he said.

Shimon Sharif, a former international rifle shooter, who runs a shooting academy in Delhi and was instrumental in organising series of six online competitions starting April, said that since there was no spot competition online events were a sort of good exposure.

“At least seven shooters from our academy have their identity blocked. Let’s see what happens in the NRAI AGM on Friday,” he said.

–IANS

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