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However, Priya, who made it to the coveted event with a borrowed rifle, doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to support her career and may have to miss the championship. Reason: the government provides financial assistance to the top three only while she is ranked fourth in the list of six who have qualified.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia told TOI, “We fully support Priya and we are helping her out with the gun permit so that she is able to participate in the Suhl event. As far as financial assistance is concerned, our hands are tied. The government takes care of all expenses, including ammunition, for the top three participants. The remaining ones have to take care of their travel and stay.”
The father-daughter duo has approached everyone — from chief minister Yogi Adityanath to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — but to no avail. “I work under a contractor and earn Rs 10,000 a month. I use this amount to feed my family, including my four children,” her father, Brijpal Singh, 50, told TOI. He said he also spoke with moneylenders but they were not willing to give him a loan.
Priya didn’t even have a rifle of her own. Provided equipment by the National Cadet Corps (NCC), of which she was a cadet until 2017, she won 17 medals between 2014 and 2017, including gold in the All India National Shooting Championship in 2016 and 2017.
However, 2017 was the last time she participated in a competition as bidding farewell to NCC meant unavailability of a gun.
A recipient of Raksha Mantri Award and the prestigious Governor’s Medal, she was selected to be part of the Indian squad for the Junior World Cup in January this year.
“I received a copy of the letter of invitation written by the German Shooting Federation to National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) on May 22. Since then, my father and I have been running around, approaching people for financial assistance. I personally visited the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and left an application. For three days, we also tried to meet Union minister of state for youth affairs and sports Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore,” Priya told TOI.
Priya needs Rs 4.5 lakh to fund her travel and accommodation to Germany. Her father has already sold his buffalo for Rs 50,000 but that’s clearly not enough.
Meanwhile, Brijpal is busy looking for lenders. “I don’t even have time to curse my fate. A person has agreed to rent my daughter a 0.22 Peep Sight Anschutz rifle, but I need money for her travel and stay,” he said.
According to the Indian junior team coach at NRAI, Deepak Dubey, “She is indeed a rare talent. If given an opportunity, she can do wonders for the country. Unfortunately, financial constraints are jeopardizing her budding career. With the association’s help, she has got her visa, but she will have to arrange for her ticket, stay, etc. The 0.22 Peep Sight Anschutz rifle alone costs Rs 3 lakh.”
Dubey added that the government would have fully sponsored Priya’s trip, had she been in the top 3. “But since she secured the fourth spot, she will have to fend for herself,” he said.