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After ISSF World Cup, India loses out Walther Open 2009

September 25, 2009 21:08 IST

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is in news for wrong reasons again as Top Gun Sports is alleging it of not supporting the organisation for a competition sponsored by a world renowned gun company.

After the cancellation of next year's ISSF World Cup citing no quota places for 2012 London Olympics, the NRAI is now being blamed for forcing the sponsors — the Carl Walther Gun company — to cancel the Euro 3000 prize money event, christened "Walther Open 2009", slated to be held after the completion of an ongoing training camp in Pune on October 8-9.

"The NRAI has played politics in a way this time that the sponsors Walther are being forced to cancel the sponsorship support," claimed Top Gun Sports CEO Shimon Sharif.

"It is very difficult to get a sponsor for shooting in India. Even after the successes of Abhinav Bindra and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the NRAI has not been able to get any sponsorships for the shooters or their events.

"Even at the Nationals there are no sponsors and not even a single rupee is given as prize money. With a lot of convincing we had roped in Walther to sponsor Euro 3000 prize money for a shooting event in India and also to provide free service at the event," he added.

"I had approached the NRAI to support this event which was in their as well as the shooters' interest. I had also given a written application as desired by them seeking their support. After several meetings with the NRAI over many days, I was asked by the NRAI Secretary General Baljeet Singh Sethi to ask the sponsors Walther to write to it seeking their support," Sharif said.

"Later the NRAI indicated to Walther that they won't sponsor the event which has resulted in Walther to take a step back."

Sharif said Olympic Beijing gold medallist Bindra and Gagan Narang were "of great support in this event".

"Gagan is the ambassador for this event while Abhinav extended all his support through email and asked us to look into the possibility to organise such events along with his company in future," he said.

Sharif blamed the NRAI's autocratic attitude for the cancellation of the event. "He said that he got an answer from a third party saying that the NRAI would not approve the competition, at least in the period when we were planning to do it.

"At this stage we just understood that we will most likely not be allowed to conduct the competition as planned or the shooters might not be able to participate," he said.

However, the NRAI has rubbished the allegations, saying it was not involved in organising the event at any stage.

"We were not informed about the competition. The competition was organised by one individual on his own and then they also cancelled it. So where are we involved in it?" NRAI General Secretary Baljeet Singh Sethi said.

NRAI Secretary Rajiv Bhatia also echoed Sethi's version and said they could not have "recognised the event being privately organised by one individual".

Bhatia also said the NRAI was never approached for any technical assistance like officials or ranges, as claimed by Sharif.

"It's all a lie," he said.

Sharif, meanwhile, said he received more than 200 registrations from around the country, including many top shooters for the event.

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