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Marathon kid’s former coach shot dead


Bhubaneswar: Biranchi Das, the controversial former coach of six-year-old marathon sensation Budhia Singh, was shot dead here Sunday by unidentified gunmen.

The assailants on motorcycles shot four to five rounds of bullets at Das near the judo hall that he ran, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Sarat Sahoo told IANS.

“We still do not know the motive behind the killing. We are investigating the matter,” Sahoo said.

“Das received a call when he was in the judo hall to celebrate the Oriya New Year along with his students and family members,” a student told IANS.

“He came out of the hall and all of a sudden the power went off. Immediately after that, we heard gunshots and we came out,” he said.

“We found him injured with blood rushing out of gunshot wounds. We moved him to the capital hospital where he was declared dead. When he came out the judo hall he was heard saying ‘Raja Ruha (Stop Raja)’,” he said.

“We have collected names of some suspects and are trying to locate them,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitabh Thakur said.

“The cause of the murder appears to be the out come of personal rivalry,” Thakur told IANS.

Das was well known as judo teacher and as secretary of the Orissa Judo Association but he became known across the globe after he discovered Budhia in a slum and made him a running sensation.

Budhia’s impoverished mother Sukanti Singh had sold him to a man for a paltry sum of Rs.800 to work as a labourer. But Das rescued Budhia, adopted him and trained him.

Budhia, under Das’ tutelage, created a record in May 2006 by running 65 km from Puri to Bhubaneswar in seven hours. The Limca Book of Records has acknowledged his feat.

But many accused Das of exploiting the child. Sukanti alleged that Das was using the boy for his personal gain and abusing him physically and mentally.

In August last year, she lodged a complaint with the police and Das was arrested, and later released.

The Orissa government then put Budhia in a government sports hostel and appointed a new coach for him.