NEW DELHI: Usman Chand is happy to be back in India after four years. He is the lone shooter from Pakistan participating in the skeet event of the ISSF Combined shooting World Cup, which began at the Karni Singh Shooting Range (KSSR) here on Friday. The last time the skeet specialist from Sialkot had visited this part of the neighbourhood, it was the World Cup Stage 1 in the Capital in 2017. But such long waits for an India visit weren’t always the case for him seven years ago.
The 36-year-old father of two beautiful daughters, Chand still vividly remembers his multiple visits to India via Wagah border on business visas to spend weekends with his local friends and commercial partners almost every month. The trips were largely about expanding his business interest in the country. The Chands are the suppliers of medical and surgical equipment, with Usman looking after the production segment.
“It was different 6-7 years ago. I would visit India via Wagah on weekends taking the expressway from my hometown Sialkot. I had a multiple-entry business visa. I would arrive by Thursday at Wagah, park my car over there and walk over to the Indian side. My business partners would then pick me up and take me to Jalandhar. On Thursdays, we would talk business and meet suppliers of surgical equipment. Then, over the weekend, we would party and explore the city. Sunday, I’ll return to Sialkot. On other occasions, the trips were about exploring this beautiful country. I have been to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, among other places. It never felt that I was in India. It always looked like I was driving or travelling in Sialkot or Lahore. Now, the waiting time to come to this part has only grown longer because of certain restrictions owing to the current political environment,” Chand said.
“You see, for coming to participate in the shooting World Cup, I had first taken an Emirates Airlines flight from Pakistan to Dubai and then spent 18 hours in layover there before taking a flight back from Dubai to reach the IGI Delhi the next day. Had things been normal, I would have taken a PIA flight from Lahore to reach Delhi. But for the Covid-19 situation. You can’t come from Wagah with your guns and ammunition for the tournament,” he stated.
Chand, however, is enjoying his current stay in India for the World Cup. A trip to Delhi has allowed him to meet his friends from the shooting fraternity after a gap of 16 months. “The last event I played was in Doha in 2019, after which, the coronavirus happened. This shooting meet is my first international competition in 16 months. It’s been a lovely experience so far. Like always, I am enjoying meeting my Indian shooting friends and enjoying the wonderful hospitality extended by the Indian federation. I would only like to see many such meetings between India and Pakistan shooters because we need to keep sports away from any kind of politics,” said Chand, who’s a first generation shooter in his family and had finished a creditable fifth in the men’s skeet competition at the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
Chand informed that he developed interest in the sport after watching his grandfather and father who were famous hunters in the region. Just like the father, Chand’s 10-year-old daughter, too, has taken a liking for shooting in women’s 10m air pistol. “In 2008, my father (Rahat Chand) took me to Islamabad to watch the shooting nationals. I was immediately hooked to the sport. In 2012, I participated in my first nationals in Islamabad and won all three gold medals in skeet, trap and double trap. It had happened for the first time in the history of the Pakistan shooting nationals that a single participant had won all three shotgun medals. Since then, there was no looking back except for a brief while in 2016-17 when I had decided to quit the sport to concentrate on my family business which was going through a difficult phase. But my father advised me to continue shooting and here I am with WC.”