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After run, testing time for Budhia

Bhubaneswar, May 5: As if the 65-km run wasn’t enough ' Budhia Singh will now be kicked around some more with the onset of inquiry after inquiry.

First, he was whisked away by a police team to be taken to a hospital for a battery of tests that will be unnerving for an adult, let alone a boy who is four and a half, as claimed by his sponsors.

Later in the day, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) despatched notices to the Orissa chief secretary and the director-general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), seeking a reply within two weeks.

Orissa ministers had blessed Budhia’s 65-km run on Tuesday with their presence and the CRPF had sponsored it.

Stung by the notice, CRPF chief J.K. Sinha, who had defended the force’s role on the day of the run, asked the additional director-general of the eastern sector, N.C. Das, to conduct an inquiry.

An official spokesman said the decision to sponsor the event was taken by B.S. Gill, who is in charge of the Bhubaneswar sector, without permission from the headquarters.

Gill was defiant today, saying no authority (possibly referring to the appointed investigator) had the right to directly question him without going through the laid-down procedure.

The NHRC, which acted on the basis of the report of the run in The Telegraph, said: “If the contents of various reports are true, it raises the serious issue of violation of human rights of the child.”

For over two hours today, Budhia was examined by a team of six doctors from the paediatric, cardiology and psychiatry departments of Capital Hospital here.

Headed by the hospital’s chief medical officer, Sugata Kar, the team put the boy through electrocardiogram, X-ray, psychiatric tests and some routine pathology examinations to assess his body capability to run long distances.

At the insistence of the child protection wing of the Orissa government and armed with a warrant-cum-authorisation letter from the Khurda District Child Welfare Committee, the police team, accompanied by a magistrate, picked up Budhia from the state judo association hall around 12.30 when he was getting a massage before his bath.

The boy’s coach, Biranchi Das, alleged that the police virtually lifted the boy away from the judo club where he lives with him.

The Calcutta-based scientific officer (sports medicine) of the Sports Authority of India, Manabendra Bhattacharya, who was part of the team, said a child should not run long distances because of the risk of damage to bones resulting in early osteo-arthritis.

“It may also lead to cardiac problems,” he said without elaborating in the absence of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and caryotyping (genetic) tests, the two facilities not available in the hospital.

The MRI test will be done tomorrow in a private clinic in Cuttack to find out Budhia’s age, about which there is some doubt.

Bhattacharya had come here on a similar mission earlier but had to go back after the recalcitrant coach refused to bring Budhia.

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