Arjuna awardee and Tokyo Olympics medal prospect Manu Bhaker has demanded action against two Air India employees for allegedly “harassing” and “insulting” the pistol shooter while she tried to board a flight to Bhopal from Delhi. Air India, however, rebutted her claims.
After being stopped at the Indira Gandhi Airport, 19-year-old Manu tweeted her ‘problem’, tagging Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, among others.
After Rijiju’s intervention, Bhaker eventually boarded the AI 437 flight. She thanked the sports minister in her last tweet: “Thank you @KirenRijiju sir. Got boarded after strong support from all of you. Thank you India. jai hind.” Rijiju responded by tweeting: “You are India’s pride.”
The 19-year-old Olympics shooter made a sensational charge against Air India, saying that employees of the national airline treated her “like a criminal” for carrying guns on board the aircraft. Taking to Twitter, Bhaker was headed to Bhopal Shooting Academy for training alleged that the national carrier did not allow her, in the first instance, to board her scheduled flight from Delhi to Bhopal, citing no permission to carry her guns and shooting equipment.
Bhaker further claimed that the airline employees even demanded a bride from her. Lashing out at Air India, the Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist stated that she had to go through the “ordeal” despite carrying all valid documents and clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for travelling with her weapons and ammunition.
“Not allowing me to board flight AI 437 at IGI Delhi and asking now 10200rs despite all valid documentation and DGCA permit . Top of that Manoj Gupta Air India incharge doesn’t recognise DGCA @narendramodi @HardeepSPuri @AmitShah @VasundharaBJP shall I pay this Bribes or!!!!” the ace shooter tweeted.
“Think this type of behaviour is not acceptable. Manoj Gupta is not even human. He is treating me like I am a criminal. Also his security in charge. Such people need basic training of behaviour hopefully Aviation ministry will find out and will send him to the right place,” she said in another tweet.
The 19-year-old pistol shooter also demanded action against two Air India employees for allegedly “harassing” and “insulting” her.
Denying Bhaker’s charges, Air India, in its reply to Bhaker, tweeted, “Our Delhi Airport team has confirmed that the official at our counter had only sought for valid documents as per rules for the carriage of your weapon on board. In absence of the same, legitimate specified charges for the arms were conveyed to you”.
The airline further added that no one sought a ‘bribe’ and that “you were issued boarding pass on your assurance of furnishing valid documents before boarding. Immediately after the official valid documents were shown by you at the boarding point, you were allowed to board”. Air India also tendered an apology and added that the airline has always encouraged and respected sportspersons.