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Sep 12, 2012 at 09:19am IST

UP: Grandmoms become shooters, fight gender bias

Baghpat: Grandmothers from Uttar Pradesh's Baghpat district have decided to take on age old prejudices and discrimination against women. The gun-wielding grandmoms are the new force to reckon with.

In the wild west of Uttar Pradesh, where female foeticide is practised, the two gun-toting grandmoms are shooting some age and gender prejudices to oblivion.

Chandroo Tomar, 78, is the world's oldest professional shooter. Her sister-in-law Prakasho is 70. Between them, they have 40 national championship awards. But it wasn't easy when they aimed for the kill 14 years ago. The guns didn't pose as big a problem as their men.

"People made a lot of fun. They said these two old women have now become shooters, they should be sent to Kargil with their guns," Prakasho said.

"Everyone was very angry. But I shut my mouth and ears. If I would have started responding to people's taunts where would I have had the time to practice," Chandroo added.

The grandmoms of Baghpat became national champions for the first time in 1999. Their coach Farook Pathan says the men who lost to them never took it kindly.

Farook Pathan says, "Prakasho once beat a DIG from Meerut. When he was asked to come to the podium, he refused, he said he'd been humiliated because he was beaten by two village grannies in ghagras."

As the 'Dabang dadis' of Bhagpat take aim, they have the gun totting men of western UP running scared. In an area where khaps issue bizarre diktats like banning love marriages and cell phone for girls, these two grannies are encouraging young girls, a third their age, to step out and make a mark.

Their success has been encouraging. Five girls from the family are international level shooters, with Seema, the oldest bagging a gold at the Doha Games.

"If girls don't go out, what will they do at home, they will be up to mischief. We sent our grand daughters out to study, look how well they have done. We tell girls if you have a dream pursue it with courage, your lives will become successful.

Despite a dream run, the grandmoms are nowhere near retirement. Their next kill is a tournament in America. Their passports aren't ready But Chandroo dadi's English is.