Air India on Sunday refuted Indian shooter Manu Bhaker's allegations that the officials of the national carrier did not behave properly with her and did not allow her to board the flight with shooting equipment and ammunition despite her having the valid documents and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) permit.
A statement issued by the national carrier stated that since she was carrying an Air Pistol and a 0.22 Bore Gun, she was asked to present documents mandatory to carry arms and ammunition and get them verified by the security officials.
The statement further clarified that the documents required for exemption of payment for carrying arms, as per laid down norms, was not present among those presented by Bhaker following which she was informed to pay fixed charges for the carriage of arms.
"She (Bhaker) was advised by our counter personnel to get the documents mandatory to carry arms and ammunition, verified by Air India Security officials. After verification of documents shown by Bhaker, the Security Officials informed her that the document required for exemption of payment of handling charge for carriage of arms, as per laid down norms, is not there and, as such, fixed charges for the carriage of arms would have to be paid," read the statement.
Air India further said that as soon as Bhaker furnished the required document, her baggage including arms was accepted for carriage.
"Subsequently, the applicable charges - that is Rs 5000 plus five per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), for two - a total of Rs 10,200 - was conveyed to Bhaker. Bhaker requested 10-15 minutes from our personnel to procure the required document for waiver of charges for carriage of her arms on board. The moment she furnished the required document to the Air India check-in and Security personnel, her baggage, including the arms were accepted for carriage," said the national carrier.
Air India also pointed out that though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) permit allowed her carriage of arms from February 20, in view of the Rifle Association certificate with bonafide signature, the carrier had extended the courtesy to have her on board with the arms on February 19 itself.
"Our employee Manoj Gupta was at the counter throughout and had, at no point, communicated directly with Bhaker. This is also corroborated by the CCTV footage. Hence, the allegation of misbehaviour by him simply does not arise. The CCTV footage also nullifies the passenger's allegation of bribes being asked for and snatching of mobile phone," further read the statement.
The carrier also mentioned that it was only following the protocol regarding such a sensitive activity like carriage of arms on board.
"Air India has zero-tolerance for any kind of misdemeanour or arbitrary demand from its employees, like the ones alleged by Bhaker. Only the legitimate documents were asked for, contrary to the allegations made. Air India has always encouraged and has the highest respect for sports and sportspersons and have many eminent sports legends who have done Air India and India proud over decades," it said.
On Friday, in a series of tweets, Indian olympian Manu Bhaker had complained about the Air India officials for not behaving properly with her and not allowing her to board the flight with weapons and ammunition despite having the valid documents and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) permit.
Taking to Twitter, the 19-year-old shooter, who was travelling to Bhopal for training at Madhya Pradesh Shooting Academy, said she was not happy with the Air India officials as they were rude to her and even asked for money.
( With inputs from ANI )
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