Budhia ex-coach murder: love angle suspected

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Old 14-Apr-2008
Budhia ex-coach murder: love angle suspected

New Delhi: Police sources have told CNN-IBN that there might have been a "love angle" behind the murder of Biranchi Das, who was on Sunday shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

Police suspect local gangster Raja Acharya to have killed the controversial former coach of the six-year-old marathon runner Budhia Singh.

They say Acharya was harassing a local music video actress Leslie Tripathi to marry him. Biranchi, who was known to Leslie, was trying to mediate in the matter.

“There is definitely a love angle. But we are still keeping our mind open for any other options that we could come across. This girl (Leslie) had earlier complained to us that this gangster (Raja Acharya) was troubling her, and Biranchi did try to intervene. Another problem is that we do have eye witnesses but they are very jittery right now,” Police Commissioner Binoy Behera confirmed.

Speaking to CNN-IBN, Leslie’s father Dr S N Tripathi said his daughter has nothing to do with the case.

“Leslie never approached anybody except for police. We have enough faith in law and police is giving us enough support and protection,” he said.

He, however, confirmed that Raja Acharya had indeed propositioned Leslie for marriage.

“Raja Acharya wanted to marry Leslie, but she always said no. She wanted to concentrate on her career,” he said.

Leslie’s father also stated that Biranchi and Leslie were mere acquaintances and there was nothing more to it than that.

“Both Leslie and Biranchi are celebrities on their own and they used to meet in public functions,” Dr Tripathi added.

Former Orissa chief minister JB Patnaik has also strongly criticized the present government for failing to prevent the incident.

“This incident shows that the law and order has failed in the state. This incident shows that gangster operations are being carried out in the capital city of Orissa. This is a failure of the Governement,” Patnaik said.

Police have detained two people for questioning but have refused to disclose any names while the investigations are on.

Behera said he will be examining all the options with respect to the prime suspect Raja Acharya.

“The prime suspect Raja Acharya was infatuated with the actress. He is involved in about 34-35 cases for which he has even served in jail,” Behera said.

Meanwhile, Budhia Singh has expressed shock at the murder of his ex-coach.

“The coach always wanted to see me on the top. He made me run a lot, so that I could create a Limca record. I really feel sorry at his demise. I have no clue as to who has shot my sir. He wanted me to get in the Olympics,” Budhia said.

Unknown assailants on motorcycles shot at Biranchi outside the Orissa State Judo Association Complex, where he was holding a coaching session.

Five shots were fired from a 9 mm pistol of which three hit the coach on his neck and chest.

He was rushed to Capital hospital in Bhubaneswar by his relatives but was declared dead. No arrests in the case have been made so far.

IANS spoke to a student who was training under Biranchi on the day of his murder.

"Das received a call when he was in the judo hall to celebrate the Oriya New Year along with his students and family members," the 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 added.

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 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.

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