Hundreds pay tribute to marathon kid’s former coach

April 14th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by admin  

Bhubaneswar, April 14 (IANS) Hundreds of people gathered here Monday to pay tributes to Biranchi Das, the former coach of marathon kid Budhia Singh, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen. Many of his fans, students, relatives and friends took out a procession, carrying his body from the hospital to the Judo hall where he trained more than 700 students in martial arts and judo over the past two decades.

Das, 37, is survived by his wife and a son. His body was later taken to the temple city of Puri, 56 km from here, where he was cremated.

Das was shot dead by two unknown assailants Sunday evening in front of the Judo hall. A day after the murder police remained clueless about who committed the crime.

“We have not yet detained any body nor arrested any one,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitav Thakur told IANS. “Efforts are on to nab the culprits,” he added.

Police suspect personal rivalry is the motive but appear clueless beyond that. The victim’s family alleges that a notorious gangster is behind the murder.

Das was well known as a judo teacher and as secretary of the Orissa Judo Association, but he earned fame 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, but later released.

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

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