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Biranchi Das: A sad end
Biranchi Das, the controversial coach of Budhia, has been shot dead in front of his judo-training centre by some goons, in Bhubaneshwar. Das was earlier accused of torturing Budhia and exploiting the boy’s talent for his personal gains.
WHATEVER BIRANCHI Das did in his life made its way to the news channels. From being the beacon of hope for the economically backward, sports lovers in his hometown to being accused of child abuse and exploitation in the case of child prodigy Budhia, Das was always in the limelight.
 
Now tragically he is back again in the news, probably for the last time. Yesterday, he was shot dead by some motorcycle borne, unidentified people, in cold blood, as he was taking a break with some of his friends at the Orissa State Judo Association, after a training session. His wife and two year old son witnessed his shooting, at point blank range.
 
In his 38 years, he first won accolades for rescuing a small little boy from certain death in a slum and discovering and nurturing his potential as an athlete. He trained Budhia to run the 65kms run from Puri to Bhubaneshwar at one go and the nation watched in wonder. But just when he thought his efforts in training Budhia would get him and his ward national attention and sponsorship money, things unraveled for him. First, there were the accusations of pushing a small child to perform such a grueling feat. Various organisations stepped in to protest the exploitation of a poor, young child. Then, in an ultimate irony, Budhia’s mother, from whom Das is said to have ‘bought’ Budhia, accused Das of torturing Budhia and exploiting his talent for personal gains. Based on the mother, Sukanti’s complaint, Das was arrested and jailed for nearly a week on charges of physically torturing the minor boy.
 
The truth of the accusations by the mother and counter accusations from Das never got established, but he did fall from grace due to the whole controversy. Budhia came under the care of the state and was removed from Das’s custody. Das, however, continued to have his devoted followers. His small sports ‘school’ continued to run and provide basic education and sports training, free, for many children from disadvantaged backgrounds. His untimely death has cast a shadow over the future and aspirations of the children he trained. There has been a great outpouring of grief at Das’s death, indicating that in spite of Budhia controversy, he continued to be viewed as a Good Samaritan by the people in his hometown.
 
Investigations are continuing into the murder. His friends have told the police that they suspect some local gangsters to be involved in the murder of Biranchi Das.
 
Further investigations have brought some leads to light. Apparently, Das has paid the ultimate price for protecting a local girl, Leslie Tripathy, from some stalkers who had been intimidating her. If this is the case, then it is a sad commentary, indeed, on the state of things in our cities. The gun seems to rule everywhere and killing the opponent seems to be the method of choice to ‘settle’ disputes. From the nation’s capital to Bhubaneshwar in the east, violence is becoming the means to tackle even ordinary disagreements. It is due to this that a young IAF pilot lost his life in Kasauli, a shopkeeper was gunned down in broad daylight in Kalkaji, and a young ex-airhostess died in a hail of bullets in Noida, last week.
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