Who killed marathon kid’s former coach?

April 14th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, April 14 (IANS) Mystery shrouds the murder of Biranchi Das, the controversial coach of six-year-old marathon sensation Budhia Singh. Personal rivalry, love, whistle blowing - there are many theories about the motive behind the murder. The 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 shot dead by two unidentified gunmen here Sunday evening, when he was celebrating Oriya New Year’s Day with his students and family in a judo hall.

His brother Susanta, who claimed to be present at the crime site, alleged hardcore criminal and gangster Sandip Acharya alias Raja was the man who killed Das.

Susanta said Raja along with two assailants came to the judo hall when his brother was going out with his wife and son. Raja, Susanta alleged, started firing even as “my brother kept asking him not to”.

But police say nothing can be said as of now as the investigations are on.

“We still do not know the motive behind the killing. We are investigating the matter,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitabh Thakur.

“We have collected names of some suspects and are trying to locate them,” he said.

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

According to an eyewitness account, Das had received a call on his cell phone before he was killed outside the hall.

“He came out of the hall and all of a sudden the power went off,” said a man claiming to be an eyewitness.

“When he came out the judo hall he was heard saying ‘Raja Ruha (Stop Raja)’,” the eyewitness said.

“Immediately after that, we heard gunshots and came out. We found him injured with blood rushing out of gunshot wounds.

“We moved him to the capital hospital where he was declared dead,” he said.

Some people have a different story. They see a love angle behind the murder.

Raja, they say, was wooing Oriya film star Lessly Tripathy but had failed to impress her.

He wanted Das to mediate on his behalf, sources close to Das said. But Das had turned down the request.

Lessly who has acted in a few Oriya films and starred in some music videos had lodged a complaint with the police sometime ago that Raja had been calling her and sending her threatening SMSes for the past few years.

Das was reportedly providing protection to Lessly. Raja might have killed him for that, the sources said.

Yet another possible reason for the murder is said to be an “illegal scrap deal”, about which Das had told the police.

It was because of his initiative that the police arrested some suspects in the racket.

The suspects may have hired professional killers to kill Das, said a number of people close to the victim.

Das, survived by wife and a son, was a judo trainer who had earned international fame after he discovered Budhia in a slum and made him a running sensation.

Das’ death is a “great loss” to the state, say sports lovers. He was also secretary of the Orissa judo association.

“We lost a man who introduced judo in the state,” said Hara Patnaik, a judo trainer. “It is a great loss to Orissa sports.”

Budhia’s impoverished mother Sukanti Singh had sold her son 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.

“It is great shock for me,” Budhia said in his hostel. “It was because of him I created a world record.”

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