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Marathon wonder kid Budhia Singh's former coach Biranchi Das was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Amitabh [Images] Thakur said that three assailants on a motor-cycle fired at Das at a function to celebrate the Oriya new year at the Orissa State Judo Association.
The attackers came close to Das on the pretext of speaking to him and fired thrice from point blank range. The bullets hit him in the neck and chest, he said.
The trainer was taken to the Capital Hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.
Das, who is survived by wife and a son, was in the company of some friends outside the judo training hall when the incident took place, police said, adding that the assailants fled the scene after shooting him.
Senior police officials rushed to the site of incident and the hospital soon after the mishap.
Das had come to the limelight after he discovered the hidden talent in Budhia Singh, a slum boy, and groomed and coached him for a 65 km run from Puri to Bhubaneswar on May 2, 2006.
The wonder kid was just five years old when he completed the run non-stop in seven hours and two minutes, creating a record of sorts.
The run, however, had triggered a controversy with several organisations and child welfare bodies objecting to such shows involving a little boy.
Even Budhia's mother, Sukanti, had lodged an FIR against Das accusing him of physically torturing the child. She had also sought security cover for Budhia and herself.
Biranchi Das was arrested on August 13, 2007 on the suspicion of torturing Budhia. Das had denied the charges, saying these were made up as a result of some petty rows.
Budhia, who was living with mother and sisters in Bhubaneshwar's biggest slum Salia Sahi after being separated from coach Biranchi Das, had been adopted by Orissa government.
The boy, who was sent to the state-run hostel at Kalinga Stadium, was later admitted to a reputed public school.
The gunning down of Das sparked off a sensation with his brother Susanta Das alleging that a known gangster was involved in the killing.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Thakur said that they were working on some leads based on preliminary information obtained from eyewitnesses and others.
A senior police official said the assailants had fired five shots from a 9 mm pistol, of which three hit the coach on his neck and chest.
Das had gone out of the building following a snap in electricity supply when the assailants struck, triggering panic in the complex.
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