Olympian shooters Gurpreet Singh and Kynan Chenai were detained at the Indira Gandhi International airport along with 10 other shooters today while they were returning to India after participating in Plzen shooting Grand Prix. The shooters had to stay at the airport for more than 12 hours.
The shooters were not allowed to leave the airport as the customs department did not clear their guns.
"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. 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. We are international shooters and have been travelling to various tournaments around the world," said a shooter who didn't wish to be named.
The shooter revealed that one of the officials used degrading words and his behaviour was out of line throughout their detainment.
"We were sleep deprived, hungry. When we told this to the officer there, he said 'you won't die if you don't eat'. We were left speechless. "When we went for Plzen, the same department had issued us letters with their stamp and serial numbers of our guns. We have the same guns and the letters. We don't have even a screw extra, but they don't trust their own letters," he added.
The shooters had to miss their scheduled flights to respective cities due to their stoppage at the customs department.
"We had booked connecting flights with a gap of 4 hours. But we had to miss the flights, as we couldn't leave without getting the clearance," said another shooter.
The shooters will further represent India in the shooting World Cup in Munich and their detainment hampered the practice time and might have dented India's hopes of winning.
"We have a World Cup in Munich, which will start from May 17. Every day counts for us now. Today's day has been wasted and this is going to hurt our preparation," the shooter added.
When Amandeep Singh. additional commissioner at the IGIA, was questioned regarding the delay in clearence of the guns he blamed the Directorate Of Revenue for the delay.
"We had to clear some things with the revenue department and hence the delay in clearing the shooters' guns," Singh told TOI.
When asked about the misbehaviour with the shooters, Singh admitted to his staff's mistake and said,"I got to know this from a few shooters there. I have told my staff to handle them with care."
The added time in clearence of shooters guns was due to the fact that some national shooters were found smuggling illegal pistols a few days ago.