Indian ace shooter Manu Bhaker has alleged that Air India staff at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) in Delhi stopped her from boarding the flight and asked ₹10200 bribe for carrying shooting gear and ammunition while on her way to Bhopal on Friday.
According to her Twitter, the 19-year-old was travelling with her mother and was carrying a laundry list of shooting equipment.
"Not allowing me to board flight AI 437 at IGI Delhi and asking now ₹10200 despite all valid documentation and DGCA permit. Top of that Manoj Gupta Air India in charge doesn't recognise DGCA @HardeepSPuri shall I pay this bribe or!!!!," Bhaker tweeted.
Bhaker claimed that the newly installed electronic systems did not require a stamp and a signature on the DGCA permission letter she was carrying for her sporting equipment. Yet, Manoj Gupta, who she said didn't know the rules himself, insisted on the stamp and signature. She also alleged that the officer was "not even human" and treated her "like a criminal".
Later on Friday, Air India, posted a clarification thread on Twitter saying that their staff had only sought valid documents as per the rules and that she had been charged for failing to produce the requirement. "No one sought a 'bribe' as has been alleged. You were issued a boarding pass on your assurance of furnishing valid documents before boarding," the statement read.
Soon after her tweet, several sports personnel including cricketer Jhulan Goswami tweeted in her support. "This is very unfortunate to have such incident occurred, but my association with Air India as an employee and a passenger is remarkable. AI has always set the benchmark for showing respect to sports and sportspersons.@airindiain," Goswami tweeted.