NRAI bars three top IOA members from its election process

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) Monday barred its three officials who occupy key positions in the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) from taking part in its elections April 6.

The three officials are IOA vice-president Anurag Thakur, joint secretary Raja K. Sidhu and executive committee member Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi.

Thakur, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP), also holds important administrative positions in other sports associations. Thakur is the president of Himachal Pradesh's cricket, shooting and Olympic associations.

Secretary of Punjab Olympic Association Sidhu and Sodhi both represent Punjab's shooting body as secretary-general and vice-president, respectively. Tripura Olympic Association's secretary Rupak Deb Roy, who is also an office bearer of the state shooting body, will also not be allowed tot ake part in the NRAI election.

NRAI president Raninder Singh said the national body has written to all its affiliated units to bar those officials who took part in the elections of the IOA, which has been de-recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over rigged elections in December. The units have been given 15 days' time to act against the members, who took Abhay Singh Chautala's side in the IOA elections.

"The elected IOA body is an illegal entity. The IOC has clearly said that it recognises the IOA that was headed by president Vijay Kumar Malhotra and secretary-general Randhir Singh. We have sent a directive to all our affiliated units that they should stay away from all the officials who took part in the illegal IOA elections," said Raninder Singh.

Raninder Singh said Punjab is the first state to take action against its officials, who voted for Abhay Singh Chautala in the IOA elections. Gurbir Singh Sandhu, president of Punjab's shooting body and father of former World Champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu, has already suspended Sidhu and Sodhi.

Raninder Singh, son of former Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh, said steps are being taken to ensure that the careers of the Indian shooters are not jeopardised.

"The IOA has been suspended by the IOC. We were the only association to boycott the IOA elections. Our affiliation to our international body ISSF hasn't been affected. There will be no double standards and we will follow the directives of the ISSF," said Raninder Singh.

The NRAI president said the Returning Officer retired Judge Mehtab Singh Gill has been given the option to conduct the elections as per the national sports code or any other process he feels suitable.

"Rule 14 of the NRAI constitution clearly states that the chairman/Returning Officer has the authority to select the method for the conduct of the elections. We have forwarded Mr. Gill the advisory by the sports ministry regarding the sports code. It is up to the Returning Officer to decide how he conducts the elections," said Raninder Singh.

The NRAI president also said that the Indian shooters will be participating in the World Cup, as also other ISSF events, under the tricolour.

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