A day after India hockey player Harbir Singh Sandhu was denied UK visa for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, two Indian shooting members were unable to board the flight to US city of Fort Benning to participate in the Shooting World Cup after their visas were rejected.
The 33-member Indian shooting contingent (26 shooters and seven coaches), led by London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar and rifle shooter Gagan Narang, left for US in the wee hours of Sunday without pistol coach Gangadhar Sharma of Army and rapid fire pistol shooter Mohinder Singh of Border Security Force.
"No reason has been given by the US Embassy as per the practice," said a senior official touring with the team.
However, Mohinder is likely to apply for fresh visa in a day in order to reach US by March 29 — the day of his event.
"We've been facing this problem every year. Last time also Sayed Wajid Ali, our pistol coach, was denied visa and now these two. NRAI will take up this issue with Indian Olympic Association very seriously," said a senior NRAI official on Monday.
"Gangadhar is a seasoned coach and has toured many countries. Let someone from the embassy explain on what basis his visa application has been rejected," he added.
dna has learnt that coach Abha Dhillon has been asked to join team in US in place of Gangadhar.
In 2013, Wajid Ali could not go along with Indian team to Fort Benning because of not getting visa. For the same reason, 10m air rifle shooter Imran Khan failed to represent India at Shooting World Cup at same venue in 2012.
The reason could well be linked to two incidents. One in the year 2001, when a top boxer Gurcharan Singh, who was part of the Indian team, went missing in the US. And the other one in 1998, when two Army boxers — Lakha Singh and Debendra Thapa — abandoned their team in Texas during the World Military boxing meet. Both of them have not returned to India since.
Meanwhile, IOA general secretary Rajeev Mehta told dna that the matter related to Sandhu has been taken up with Glasgow Organising Committee.
"We've been told by Committee about the procedure under which this hockey player can apply for an explanation from the embassy. After he completes these formalities, the reason for denial of visa would only be told to the player as per the rules and not to IOA or Hockey India," Mehta said on Monday.
But IOA secretary denied knowledge of shooting team's visa problem. "The NRAI has not applied for visas through IOA. I've only come to know through dna that such a thing has happened," he added.