Ahead of Asian Airgun, SAI terminates range officials contract

Ahead of the Asian Airgun Championships, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has terminated the contract of two of the longest-serving officials at the Karni Singh Ranges.

New Delhi: Ahead of the Asian Airgun Championships, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has terminated the contract of two of the longest-serving officials at the Karni Singh Ranges.

Balak Ram (71) and Tilak Raj Suri (75), well beyond the superannuation age, but two of the most recognisable faces at the ranges for nearly three decades were told their services were no longer required.

Balak Ram, popularly known as Bapu, and Suri, popularly known as Suri Saab, had joined the Ranges in 1990 and were only entitled to a monthly pocket allowance for nearly 15 decades. In 2000, following the intervention of one of the range administrators, they got SAI contracts.

Both were in charge of the armoury, one of the most important places inside the shooting range, where all the guns and ammunition are stored. Their job was to issue guns, ammunition, targets and clay birds.

They worked under eight different administrators even though it meant travelling nearly 35 km to reach the range every day.

During major international events, including the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, they worked round the clock.

"Both Suri and I worked day and night during all international events held at the shooting ranges. We always used to be at the shooters' service till late in the evening. Even after dedicating 25 years to this range, we were never regularised by the Sports Authority of India - a fact that will always hurt," said Balak Ram.

"People suggested that we approach the court to get our services regularised but we were never interested in any kind of litigation."

Yesterday, a small farewell was arranged for them at the range and they left with tears in their eyes.

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