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Another shooter suicide, Bindra wants NRAI to act

Vinayak Padmadeo
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 16

“Konica was supposed to return to Dhanbad today and now she will never return,” said a distraught and broken Parth Pratim Layak, who had lit the funeral pyre of his beloved daughter.

While reports coming from Kolkata suggest that the rifle shooter was depressed due to her failing scores, Parth still doesn’t know what forced his daughter Konica Layak to take such an extreme step. “I am at the police station and we are still looking for answers,” he said.

News of her suicide has rocked the shooting community as this is fourth such incident in as many months.

Last week, young pistol shooter Khushseerat Kaur Sandhu, who had made her junior India debut at the Junior World Championships in October, took her life after registering low scores at the shooting Nationals.

In October, Hunardeep Singh Sohal, a state-level shooter, ended his life because an injury affected his shooting career. In September, Mohali’s Namanveer Singh Brar, who had won a bronze medal at the World University Games, took the extreme step as well.

‘She was disqualified’

Konica’s coach Joydeep Karmakar is equally at a loss to explain the development. Although, he said that her disqualification from the GV Mavalankar tournament, which is a pre-Nationals event, did disturb her. Konica was disqualified during competition in Ahmedabad in October for target tampering and was asked to send a written apology.

“Target tampering is a serious charge. She was shooting well and we were expecting that she would qualify for the shooting Nationals. Then all of a sudden she was disqualified,” Karmakar said. “She told us that she was forced to send in a written apology and that she did not tamper at all. We thought she was over it, and yet this happened. We are all at a loss,” he added.

‘Let’s talk about

mental wellness’

Meanwhile, former shooter Abhinav Bindra, India’s first individual gold medallist in the Olympics, has once again pitched in to help educate stakeholders, including the coaches and parents, about the mental wellbeing of the athletes. Bindra in a letter to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president, Raninder Singh, has pleaded with the body to act quickly and prevent more incidents.

“I am writing to bring to your kind attention to recent incidents of athletes suicides in the country. The news has startled me on a very personal note and I feel that to prevent any further loss of lives, we must act quickly and responsibly,” Bindra said in his letter.

“My primary outreach towards helping athletes achieve their peak potential is through the Abhinav Bindra Foundation — wherein we not only cater to the physical aspects of high-performance athletes but also lay a strong emphasis on mental wellness. Athletes are also humans, are prone to anxiety, depression, and need to be given a safe and conducive atmosphere to pursue excellence. Our intention is to help athletes, coaches, and the rest of the sporting ecosystem begin conversation about mental health, reflect on the link to peak performance, and how they can incorporate best practices into their day-to-day lives,” he added.

“Through this letter, I wish to offer the time and energy of my team to help the athletes, coaches, administrators, parents, and others in the sporting ecosystem in need. I hope you will accept my proposal and allow us to conduct a few virtual sessions. These sessions will be curated and hosted by Sanjana Kiran, Head of Sports Psychology ABFT, with the program focussing on the awareness and mental wellness of stakeholders at all levels in the ecosystem.”

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