Indian shooters look to PM for ammunition

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Patiala, Mar 27 (UNI) With the Beijing Olympics around the corner, the Indian shooters are pinning their hopes on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the ammunation they would require for their practice sessions.

Office bearers of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) have met the Prime Minister and apprised him of the ammunation shortage being faced by the shooters who are preparing for the Olympics. As quality pellets ( as per international standards) are not avaliable in India, these have to be imported.

The shooters who have qualified for Beijing are-- Manavjit Sandhu, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Sanjeev Rajput, Samresh Jung, Mansher Singh, Anjali Bhagwat and Avneer Kaur Sidhu. So far in no single event have so many sportspersons qualified for the forthcoming Olympics.

Mr Baljit Singh Sethi Secretary General of NRAI when contacted said here today that they have apprised Dr Singh regarding the shortage of ammunition. He said that he had written a letter to the PM and apprised him of the uncooperative attitude of the Union Sports Ministry in solving this problem.

"It seems the ministry have woken up and asked me to meet them.

I hope that there will be some way out to import the pellets", Mr Sethi added.

Mr Sethi is here in connection with the 'Indian Masters 2008' of the 6th Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Shooting Championship being held at the New Moti Bagh Gun Club Shooting Range here.

Mr Sethi said that for the last 23 years the government had been providing NRAI with all the ammunition, which had to be imported.

However all of a sudden the Sports Ministry stopped importing or supplying the ammunation, he said adding that on December 13 last year NRAI was told to apply for an import licence for the ammunation.

He said that even if NRAI got the license immediately, it would take at least three months for the ammunition to reach the shooters. Given the fact that this is an Olympic year, it is not easy to procure ammunition at short notice, he said and added that it was in desperation that they had to write to the PM.

"It is a pity that talented shooters who have done the country proud in international events and are the best medal hopes in Beijing are treated so shabbily", he added while hoping that with the PM's intervention this problem will be solved.

UNI HS MMS1739

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