Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) has objected to National Rifle Association of India’s (NRAI) recent move to hold para shooting events, saying that it has no jurisdiction to do that.
The NRAI, the country’s governing body for shooting sport, had removed para shooting from all its competitions, including national championships, in 2019. That move had left more than 200 para shooters in the lurch ahead of the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The NRAI had then said that since there’s a separate organisation, PCI, which controls para shooting activities, including selection of teams, it was removing para shooting from its ambit, though it was hosting the sport for the specially-abled marksmen for more than 25 years.
However, on June 8, a letter from NRAI to PCI stated that it has decided to restart the para events “during State Championship/Pre-National and National Championship”.
Taken by surprise, the PCI said the NRAI cannot take over any activities held under the aegis of PCI without consultation.
The PCI technical committee chairman for shooting sport JP Nautiyal told PTI, “The NRAI don’t have the mandate of World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) or the jurisdiction to issue directives to para shooters for competition-related and other activities as para shooting comes under PCI, and not NRAI. However, PCI is open to mutual co-operation.”
The NRAI issued another statement on Wednesday, directing all para shooters who wish to participate in the Zonal/GV Mavlankar Championship to register themselves with it for shooter IDs.
PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh had written to NRAI on June 26 stating that, as per the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) guidelines, PCI directly governs and administers para shooting.
“PCI has worked hard to develop para shooting independently since last 5 years after NRAI’s decision to abruptly stop support. This painful decision of NRAI was unilateral, without even any discussion or consultation with PCI,” Gursharan wrote in the letter.
“The PCI, being an independent body has the status equivalent to the Indian Olympic Association. NRAI does not have any jurisdiction to decide on matter related to PCI for the conduct of national championship.” NRAI wrote back on July 7 that, “...on the instructions of the Sports Ministry, NRAI has accepted and processed to reintroduce ‘para category’ in all competitions of the NRAI. The role of PCI is of an umbrella organisation for all disciplines. Selection trials/coaching camp/national championship are left to the respective National Sports Federations (NSFs) who are expert in their respective disciplines.
“The Governing Body of NRAI had excluded the para category from its programme of its national championships (in 2019), due to the indifferent and non-cooperative attitude of some of the PCI officials,” read the NRAI letter.
Gursharan said PCI had been through a tough time after para shooting was removed from NRAI’s curriculum.
“It has taken us painstaking effort to bring para shooting to where it is now after being thrown out by NRAI in 2019. We have created infrastructure, the Sports Ministry has helped us in terms of financial assistance and coaching camps.
“If the NRAI wants to help us, we can work as collaborators. We, and not NRAI, has the coaching expertise for para shooters. We do the medical classification of para shooters. NRAI can send their observers to assist,” Gursharan told PTI.
“We and the Sports Authority of India tried several times to convince NRAI to include our shooters in state and national championships when they abruptly closed the door on us. Now we have everything, barring the right to import arms and ammunition which is with NRAI. The NRAI can help para shooting by assisting us with procuring arms and ammunition,” said Gursharan.
Interestingly, NRAI is the sole authorised body for importing arms and ammunition in country, and the PCI (para shooters) relies entirely on them to get their guns and pistols for competitive purposes.
“If you look at the international organisational structure too, the NRAI is governed by the International Shooting Sports Federation, and para shooting is governed by World Shooting Para Sports (WSPS). So, NRAI has no locus standi to unilaterally organise para events,” added Gursharan.
NRAI secretary-general Sultan Singh, when asked if his organisation had the mandate to take over para shooting activity in the country, said, “The question is, the entire shooting sport is regulated by by the Arms Act, and under the Act, we are the only competent body which can import arms for them (para shooters) or (give) any kind of facility.”
On whether NRAI had the ministry’s letter mandating the takeover of para shooting, Sultan said, “We have been directed (by the ministry). I’ll have to check up on that (ministry’s letter). The (ministry) wants to synchronise the entire shooting sport under one (umbrella body).”
Asked why the NRAI didn’t resolve issues with the PCI when the ministry had tried to mediate between the two bodies, Sultan said, “That was then. I don’t know now. I have been directed to streamline the process, and that shooters don’t suffer on these accounts.”
On whether the NRAI had the know-how to train para shooters, Sultan said, “There is no expertise required. We are aware of the process which takes place. PCI can assist us.”
Asked if NRAI shouldn’t be assisting PCI in procuring arms, he said, “I can’t take the responsibility. The question is, it has to go under my signature. Being the only authorised body (to import ammo), we (NRAI) cannot delegate the government’s powers, which have been given to us.”
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