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Top India Pistol Shooter Removed From Worlds Contingent Because Of ‘Minor Scuffle’, Claims Father

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New Delhi, Aug 27 (PTI) Top pistol shooter Ankait Tomar was removed from the Indian contingent bound for the ISSF World Championships in Baku a week before its departure because of a “minor scuffle with a fellow shooter”, said his father on Sunday.

Tomar, 21, a leading centre-fire pistol shooter in the country, came to know about his exclusion on August 7 when he did not find the details of his weapons or his name on the list of shooters leaving for Baku in Azerbaijan.

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The World Championships, which commenced on August 14, will conclude on September 1.

Tomar had a “minor scuffle” during the ISSF World Junior Championships in Changwon, South Korea in July and had to pay the price for it.

The shooter from Sonepat had won the team gold in 50m pistol along with Kamaljeet and Sandeep Bishnoi in Changwon.

When Tomar tried to find out the reason for his exclusion from the contingent for the prestigious ongoing World Championships in Baku, the National Rifle Association (NRAI) told him that, “You have been informed that you will not be allowed to participate in any competition, till the final decision of the (NRAI) disciplinary committee is taken.”

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Tomar pleaded with the NRAI to expedite the disciplinary committee hearing saying, “It’s my future (in) question. I request you to please take a decision tomorrow as very little time is left (for the team departing for Baku).

“I want to play in Baku as this is my future and I am performing my best, you can check my scores,” Tomar wrote in his e-mail to NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia, a copy of which is with PTI.

The shooter has been served a show-cause notice by the NRAI, but Tomar father Davinder Tomar said his son is yet to be called for a hearing, leaving him “disturbed” and “anxious about his future in shooting”.

Tomar has mentioned two incidents in his letter to NRAI where he erred on the disciplinary side in Changwon.

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In his apology letter he wrote, “The incident was that we decided to go to a restaurant (in Changwon) and after coming back from there Unish said I spent a lot of money, we said him don’t shout (speak slowly).

“In irritation he pushed me. I’ve noticed, he often takes action in aggression and it was exchange of words. There was a little bit of manhandling, Unish got overaggressive and we just did out of self defence,” wrote Tomar in his reply to NRAI (sic).

“After the fight, we all 4 friends apologised to each other and sort out the matter after that, we stayed together (sic).”

Tomar further wrote that he was not at all involved in the second incident.

“In the other incident that happened was in my room. When I came back from dinner and entered my room, there were two girls sitting along with my room partner and then in one corner I sit in the chair and started using my phone. In that case, I only saw that 5-6 shooters came in the room and two of them started fighting.

“I haven’t been in between them or say anything or touched anyone, there was an issue in my payment, that’s why I was busy in my phone and was not able to see the full incident,” Tomar wrote.

A coach, accompanying the team too “has resigned” in the wake of the incident for “standing up to defend my son”, according to Davinder.

The said coach, however, denied it, saying it was routine for different coaches to go with different teams on international assignments, and “me not being there on the list of coaches accompanying the contingent to Baku doesn’t mean I will not be called back by NRAI in future”.

“It was a minor disciplinary issue for which my son is having to pay such a big price  of being removed from the World Championships contingent. He is the country’s No.1 centre-fire pistol shooter and had he gone, he could have won a gold medal. We only came back from Baku with a a bronze medal,” said Davinder.

“The coach accompanying the team too has resigned because he tried to reason with NRAI that it was a minor incident. They are still kids and can make mistakes. But the quantum of punishment is far too big for such a minor offense. My son is ranked No.1 in centre-fire in the country. Now the centre-fire team which has returned from Baku has only won a bronze,” he said.

“My child has confided in me and said ‘yes I have committed a mistake but it’s a very small offense’. We have no mail (from NRAI) when the hearing will take place. He is only in the sport because he wants to perform. He doesn’t want anything else.

“Just one week before the departure of the team for Baku, Ankait (Tomar) was informed he will not be part of the contingent. It has shattered his morale,” added Davinder.

NRAI secretary-general Sultan Singh confirmed Tomar was removed from the Baku-bound team, saying, “discipline has to be the core basic parameter for going ahead or taking ahead the Indian flag. At times we get stuck with this kind of rowdyism and…you know the kids are there, their age is volatile.

“In one incident they ran with BB guns and it was all video recorded in the hotel. So the hotel staff got totally rattled…gun-toting people running around, that got scary,” said Singh.

BB guns are gas-charged and though they look real, and even sound real, they are not actual guns.

“They (shooters) were playing around (with those BB guns) in the gallery and being video recorded and security issues…rake up the issue that there are people with guns hanging around and it becomes a security issue for them (hotel),” added Singh.

“Then playing loud music. Then these players come from villages, this is their first visit abroad so they want to see the city, explore…”

Asked if a lenient view could have been taken in Tomar’s case, Singh said, “When it crosses the line, I have to take a very stern issue. Straightaway it can reflect on the (entire) India team.”

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