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.
The 19-year-old Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist pistol shooter eventually managed to board the aircraft on Friday evening after the intervention of Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju.
Manu, one of the country's brightest medal hopes at the upcoming Games, thanked Rijiju for his prompt intervention but is also hoping for action against the Air India officials at Delhi airport. Later, Air India, too, apologised for the conduct of of its staff.
"They can be be held accountable for the harassment and insult I endured as trying to save their officials (Manoj Gupta and another security person of the airline) will only further damage Air India's reputation," Manu told PTI from Bhopal.
The champion pistol shooter added, "Air India is now claiming that they were just asking for documents and doing their job but I am sure everything was captured by the CCTV cameras. You can check...
"They snatched my mobile and deleted the picture which my mother clicked as the harassment went on."
Having addressed the issue, Rijiju called Manu "India's pride."
Air India also tendered an apology.
"Ma'am we are really sorry that you have faced inconvenience while travelling with us. We request you to kindly share details of the issue along with your contact details over DM for us to assist you," Air India tweeted.
Manu said 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.
"But then they refused to recognise even DGCA and when I told them that I travel frequently with my ammunition and that I am a shooter who is going to represent India in Olympics, they said 'whether you play in nationals or Olympics it doesn't matter to us'.
"Their conduct was unacceptable, I mean at least give some respect to athletes and don't insult them every now and then. The main problem was not money but his behaviour. The ministry takes care of all our expenses," she said.
In another post, the air carrier wrote, "Dear Ms Bhaker Our Delhi Airport team has confirmed that the official at our counter had only sought for valid documents as per rules for carriage of your weapon on board."
On Friday, ISSF World Cup gold medallist Manu had lashed out at the AI officials and sought help from the authorities in a series of tweets.
"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 and other staff is humiliating me despite I have 2 guns and ammunition," she wrote tagging Rijiju and Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri.
"Think this type behaviour is not acceptable .Manoj Gupta is not even human. He is treating me like I am a criminal. Also his security incharge Such people need basic training of behaviour hopefully Aviation ministry will find out & will send him to right place."
"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. shall I pay this Bribes or," she had tweeted.