Biranchi Das, the controversial coach of the child prodigy Budhia, was shot dead, yesterday, in Bhubaneswar.The locally popular sports coach seems to have fallen prey to a senseless act of violence similar to those that have seen many ordinary people gunn
Whatever Biranchi Das did in his life it had a habit of making it to the news channels. From being the beacon of hope for the economically backward, sports lovers in his home town to being accused of child abuse and exploitation in the case of child prodigy Budhia, Biranchi 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 motor cycle borne, unidentified people, in cold blood, as sat with some friends at the Orissa State Judo Association after a training session. His wife and two year old sons were witness to 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 65 kms run from Puri to Bhubhaneshwar 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 organizations stepped in to protest the exploitation of a poor, young child. Then, in an ultimate irony, Budhia’s mother, from whom Biranchi is said to have ‘bought’ Budhia, accused Biranchi 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 Biranchi never got established but Biranchi did fall from grace due to the whole controversy. Budhi came under the care of the state and was removed from Biranchi’s custody. Biranchi, 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 he outpouring of grief at Biranchi’s death indicating that in spite of the Budhia controversy he continued to be viewed as a good Samaritan by the people in his home town.
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 Biranchi 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 Bhubaneswar 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- air hostess died in a hail of bullets in Noida in the last week.