The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has finally stepped in to resolve the ongoing issue between the National Rifle Association of India and Paralympic Committee of India. Earlier, NRAI had decided to remove para-shooters from its curriculum, from both state and national championships.
With the blame game between NRAI and PCI going on for long the national shooting federation of India, earlier this month, had decided to cut ties with PCI and not host any programmes for the para-shooters. It was all the more problematic for the para-shooters because they were thrown off gear one year before the Olympics and NRAI hadn’t provided any roadmap whatsoever.
However, with enough water flown under the bridge, the SAI has stepped in to resolve the issue asking the regional director of its teams division, Radhica Sreeman, to summon both the parties to a meeting and find a middle ground, which could happen sometime next week.
“SAI has taken cognizance of the issue and has called for a meeting of all the stakeholders to amicably settle the issue so that the athletes are not affected adversely,” said SAI Director General, Sandip Pradahan, reported TOI.
SAI's team division has been responsible for the annual competition and the training calendar of all athletes, but the ongoing issue could be much bigger than just hosting events for para-shooting. With NRAI the only body authorised by the Ministry of Commerce for importing permits of weapons, the para shooters won’t be able to import arms and ammunition, if things don’t sort out.
"That decision stands until the NRAI governing body itself decides to review. From the PCI, nobody has approached the NRAI so far on the matter," Indian shooting association's secretary Rajiv Bhatia said.
"There is one technical committee of shooting. We have got a mail from them (on the issue) but not from PCI as a body. So you yourself can see the seriousness of PCI," he added.
While Bhatia had earlier cited huge logistical reasons as the main reason for the decision being taken, TOI reported a Whatsapp chat between NRAI and PCI, where the latter had expressed concern more about the import of weapons than hosting the programmes.
"Conducting competitions is not an issue here, that very well can be done by us (PCI). The bone of contention is the issue of import permits (for weapons)," the chat read, reported TOI.
"The decision by NRAI to exclude (para-shooting) is so sudden that even arms license to PCI may take considerable amount of time. So even issue of ammunition would not be possible at competitions conducted by us, i.e., PCI. NRAI knows this, but instead of giving us sufficient time, they abruptly left us in the lurch. So we will have to wait till the Sports Minstry/SAI gives us some answers," it added.