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. (More Sports News)
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'.
Not allowing me to board flight AI 437 at IGI Delhi and asking now 10200rs Despite all valid Documentation and DGCA permit . Top of that Manoj Gupta Air india incharge and other staff is humiliating me despite I have 2 guns and ammunition@KirenRijiju @HardeepSPuri waiting sir? pic.twitter.com/UJ3G8jgVa9— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) February 19, 2021
Think this type behaviour is not acceptable .Manoj Gupta is not even human. He is treating me like I am a criminal. Also his security incharge Such people need basic training of behaviour hopefully Aviation ministry will find out &will send him to right place @HardeepSPuri pic.twitter.com/UlzLy3v974— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) February 19, 2021
Thank you @KirenRijiju sir. Got boarded after strong support from all of you.— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) February 19, 2021
Thank you India. ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ®ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ³ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂjai hind
If you @airindiain will try to save culprits Manoj Gupta and that security person who’s pic I shared. You will further damage reputation of Air India . They even snatched my mobile and deliberately deleted pic which my mother snap during harassment. I hope @HardeepSPuri sir pic.twitter.com/EVc9SMZOPc— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) February 19, 2021
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.
For the last one year, shooters can carry a letter from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation but the letter from the NRAI, that spells out the details of the gun(s), is mandatory. DGCA letter allows shooters to carry firearms and Manu Bhaker's case could be a result of confusion and communication gap.
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.
Dear Ms Bhaker— Air India (@airindiain) February 19, 2021
Our Delhi Airport team has confirmed that the official at our counter had only sought for valid documents as per rules for carriage of your weapon on board. (1/3) https://t.co/HCV87u6eha
"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.
Thank you every one and all who help me.Especially Who made my boarding possible. Few also think May be one sided and I got undue advantage. Sport ministry bears all my expense spent by me in any form Very clear if I had to pay for any wrong or right reason it’s Govt money.ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ pic.twitter.com/ztU7KH1BwX— Manu Bhaker (@realmanubhaker) February 20, 2021
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.