Shooter Sanjeev Rajput, out on bail, claims innocence in rape case ahead of ISSF World Cup
Rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput breaks his silence on allegations of rape against him by fellow shooter; talks about his struggle over the last few months
New Delhi: India's ace rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput has finally broken his silence on allegations of rape against him and said he has been falsely implicated in a case which has shaken his world.
The 36-year-old, a medallist at World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, had been accused of rape by a national-level shooter, who registered an FIR against him under section 376 and 328 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The last few months have been one of struggle, a very difficult time. There are no two ways about it," Rajput said after a training session at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range.
The rifleman is set to represent India in the season's first ISSF World Cup from February 22 to March 4, overcoming the difficult phase during which he went incommunicado.
Even as the word spread, Rajput kept quiet and when asked about it, he said, "I have full faith in the judiciary".
"Anybody going through something like this will be definitely disturbed, affected. But I take it as a challenge and motivation to do well in future.
"No matter how strong one is, such incidents are bound to leave one shaken. I was also shaken but I know I am right. I have full trust in the judiciary and truth will prevail. I am clear in my heart, my conscience is clear."
The woman shooter beat up the Olympian against whom she had filed a complaint of rape while he was participating in the shooting nationals in Pune last December.
"Right now I don't want to say anything which can harm my case, right now I am out on bail, which I got on the basis of my marriage. Whatever (proof) I had with me, I have showed it to the court and the court has given me a bail.. Things will get clearer when the trial starts.
"Everyone knows what kind of a person I am and my behaviour. I am not a 22-year-old, I am a 36-year-old, these are allegations which need to be proved in the court of law."
Sanjeev said India should utilise to the fullest this opportunity to host a world event of this magnitude. "It is a matter of pride for us to be hosting the World Cup and we should make full use of it to show the outside world that India is a powerhouse in shooting and there are good ranges in India with world class facilities. I feel we will give a good account of ourselves and win a few medals in the tournament," a confident Rajput said.
Asked about the proposal to introduce mixed-gender events in Olympics, he sounded positive.
"Any new change and some will be in favour of it, some will be against it. Ultimately, I think the IOC has already decided to start mixed gender events in Olympics. So I think we should take it positively and work in a way that we benefit out of it. There are both positive and negative sides and if there is any confusion we should not think about it and move ahead," said Rajput, who won a silver medal at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, soon after failing to make the cut for the Rio Olympics.
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