Manu Bhaker alleges harassment at IGI airport
NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Air India staff at the Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3 and senior officials of the National Rifle Association of India are shocked that Manu Bhaker created so much social media storm before boarding a flight to Bhopal on Friday night.
Manu Bhakar, a medal hopeful in the Tokyo Olympics later this year, was not in possession of a letter from the NRAI that allows shooters to carry their guns and ammunition free of cost for tournaments and camps.
The young shooter, who is coached by former international Jaspal Rana, tweeted that she was being harassed by Air India officials and was not being allowed to board the flight.
Manu Bhaker drew the attention of the sports minister Kiren Rijiju and Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri informing them about her 'plight'.
Senior Air India officers who were at the airport and managing the check-in counters on Friday night said that Manu was not carrying the letter issued by the National Rifle Association of India that allows shooter to carry their guns and ammunition.
It is part of Air India's standard operating protocol that extra baggage consisting of sports gears used in camps or tournaments can only be cleared free of cost if the athlete is carrying a valid letter from the national federation concerned. Otherwise it's Rs 5,000 per equipment plus GST.
NRAI officials confirmed to Outlook that 19-year-old Manu was not in possession of the letter and only made a last-minute request after Air India officials stopped her at the airport.
Airport officials said that they had issued Manu Bhaker the boarding pass at 6.15 PM and let her proceed to the boarding gates saying she would be allowed to fly only after producing the letter for extra baggage.
A senior NRAI official said that Manu made a request at 6:50 PM and she was sent a letter by email in the "next 10-15 minutes."
The federation added that Manu, a Youth Olympic champion, is well aware of travel requirements and she was clearly in the wrong.
Air India staff allowed Manu to board the Bhopal flight and said allegations of anyone asking for a "bribe" was unwarranted.
"Manoj Gupta, against whom Manu has been tweeting, was only doing his job. Gupta would have been at fault to let her pass without documents," said a senior Air India officer.
NRAI too is not amused at the way Manu Bhaker kept shooting off tweets.
"It was not necessary. She should be focusing on her training and could have done without this media publicity," said a top NRAI official.