Priya Singh, the 19-year-old daughter of a Dalit labourer in Meerut's Mawana subdivision, is one of the six candidates shortlisted in 50m rifle prone at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Germany's Suhl from June 22.
But her hopes to play in the tournament were in doubt because of financial constraints and lack of funding from the authorities. Priya had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for funds needed for her travel and accommodation in Germany.
In a respite to her medal hopes, her request has been taken heed of by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. "As soon as I came to know about it, I instantly approved an amount of Rs 450,000 to be provided to her by state government. Meerut District Magistrate has been asked to arrange her conveyance," said Adityanath.
After Priya caught the attention with media reports doing rounds about her struggle, Sports Authority of India (SAI) has also intervened to help her. "She will be provided all facilities to help her improve her scores and make it to the Indian Team", the Director General of SAI tweeted.
As soon as I came to know about it, I instantly approved an amount of Rs 4.5 lakh to be provided to her by state government. Meerut District Magistrate has been asked to arrange her conveyance: UP CM Yogi Adityanath on shooter Priya Singh's letter to him & PM pic.twitter.com/Z776qQ4D0N— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) June 9, 2018
Priya is part of the national camps fully funded by the Govt & is at 4th position in the country. 3 younger girls who scored higher are in the Indian Team. She will be provided all facilities to help her improve her scores and make it to the Indian Team.@timesofindia @Media_SAI https://t.co/VuQVz8ojim— Neelam Kapur (@NeelamKapur) June 9, 2018
What did Priya need?
Priya needed around Rs 400,000 to sponsor her travel to and accommodation in Germany. "I want to take part but I've been told that I'll need Rs 3-4 lakh. My father is a labourer. He is trying his best but isn't able to arrange funds. I wrote to UP CM Yodi Adityanath and PM Modi. I even went to Sports Ministry twice but couldn't meet him", Priya told ANI.
Meerut: 19-year-old Priya Singh, shortlisted to represent India in 50m rifle prone at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Germany's Suhl from June 22, writes to the Prime Minister requesting for funds needed for travel & accommodation in Germany pic.twitter.com/5ZqyaKABON— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) June 9, 2018
Priya's Father Brijpal Singh had approached many important people to help his daughter's cause. "I requested MLA, UP CM, Sports Minister as well as PM Modi but didn't receive response from any of them", Singh told ANI.
I requested MLA, CM, Sports Minister as well as PM, but didn't receive response from any of them. I have sold my buffalo, have taken loans from friends and I will send her to Germany at any cost even if government refuses to help us: Brijpal Singh, Priya Singh's father pic.twitter.com/jI8qPYDszp— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) June 9, 2018
Singh was rendered helpless as moneylenders were also not willing to give him a loan. "I work under a contractor and earn Rs 10,000 a month. I use this amount to feed my family, including my four children," Brijpal Singh, 50, told Times of India.
The father has even sold his buffalo in his resolve to send his daughter to Germany. "I have sold my buffalo, have taken loans from friends and I will send her to Germany at any cost even if the government refuses to help us", said Singh.
The reason for her troubles is that the government provides financial assistance to only the top three. She ranked fourth.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia told ToI, "We fully support Priya and we are helping her out with the gun permit so that she is able to participate in the Suhl event. As far as financial assistance is concerned, our hands are tied. The government takes care of all expenses, including ammunition, for the top three participants. The remaining ones have to take care of their travel and stay."
However, mere licensing couldn't help Priya as the 0.22 Peep Sight Anschutz rifle alone costs Rs 300,000.
Speaking to ToI, Indian junior team coach at NRAI, Deepak Dubey, said that Priya is "a rare talent". Dubey added that given an opportunity, she could do wonders for India. Unfortunately, he said, financial constraints were jeopardising her career. "With the association's help, she has got her visa, but she will have to arrange for her ticket, stay, etc. The 0.22 Peep Sight Anschutz rifle alone costs Rs 3 lakh," Dubey said.