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Olympic medallist Narang stranded at Paris airport; Air India to the rescue

Last updated on: April 05, 2014 22:30 IST

Olympic medallist Narang stranded at Paris airport; Air India to the rescue

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London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang along with fellow-Indian shooters Samresh Jung, Pemba Tamang, Jitu Rai and Raj Chaudhury, who were on their way back from the shooting World Cup in Fort Benning, United States, stranded at Paris airport on Saturday after KLM Airlines denied them entry.

National carrier Air India, however, came to their rescue after initially refusing them to board fly citing that they did not have permission to carry weapons on board.

"Air India has helped, we will be boarding in three hours," Narang told Rediff.com.

The five shooters had to first spend a few hours at the Atlanta airport after KLM airlines shut the gates before they could board, leaving them with no choice but spend 12 hours in the terminal where they were forced to sleep on benches and not provided accommodation or food.

"We were to board the 7.40 [local time]  flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam and onward to New Delhi. The gates [were] closed on our faces, and after standing in a queue to get the next flight we realised that we could only go via a Newark-Paris-Delhi flight, so we spent the night at the Atlanta airport and left for Newark in the morning and caught the Newark-Paris flight on Delta Airways," Narang said.

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Image: Gagan Narang
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Olympic medallist Narang stranded at Paris airport; Air India refuses to help

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When the group reached Paris, they were denied entry into the aircraft by Air France, which said that they could not board with their weapons, which were used to compete in the recently-concluded shooting World Cup.

"Air France didn't take us on and closed the gates on us. They said that we were carrying weapons and Delta had not informed them about this, so we could not board. They are now trying to relocate our guns and baggage. Next flight is after 24 hours. Unless someone does something and puts us on the Air India flight which takes off at 10 pm French time," Gagan wrote on his Facebook page.

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Image: India's shooters were forced to sleep on benches at Atlanta Airport
Photographs: Gagan Narang on Facebook

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Olympic medallist Narang stranded at Paris airport; Air India refuses to help

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The ace shooter pointed out that the fault lay with Delta Airlines, which failed to give proper and complete information to Air France.

"They sent us on the flight without informing Air France that we were carrying weapons and without giving confirmation for three people. Me [my] and Raj Chourdhary's boarding pass was here, Samresh, Jitu and Pemba's reservation was not there," he said.

Air India was initially reluctant to help, saying the shooters did not have permission to carry weapons on flight.

Fortunately, Narang and Co. were able to convince them. The national carrier relented and assured them that they would put them on the next flight from Paris to New Delhi.


Image: Indian shooters speak to Air France officials at Paris International Airport
Photographs: Gagan Narang on Facebook

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