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Overlooked cricketer of Odisha found dead

Body of 26-year-old player discovered in jungle
Rajashree Swain
Rajashree Swain

Subhashish Mohanty   |   Bhubaneswar   |   Published 14.01.23, 02:46 AM

Cricketer Rajashree Swain, 26, who was not selected for the Odisha team’s upcoming Puducherry tour, was found hanging from a tree in a dense jungle in the Athagarh forest reserve area about 25km from Cuttack city on Friday.

Police are investigating whether it’s a case of suicide or murder. Swain’s family members alleged that their daughter had been murdered.


However, many suspect that she committed suicide after failing to make it to the Odisha cricket team for a national-level tournament in Puducherry.

The police are probing why she had travelled nearly 25km to the forest. Her scooter was found abandoned near the forest and her mobile phone was switched off. 

Swain, an off-spinner, had played seven seasons for Odisha but could not make it to the state team for the BCCI’s Senior Women’s One-Day Trophy from January 18. The team of 16 was announced by the Odisha Cricket Association on January 10.

The next morning, Swain checked out of the hotel in Cuttack city where the probables were staying. On January 12, her coach Puspanjali Bannerjee lodged a missing complaint with the police.

Cuttack deputy commissioner of police Pinak Mishra said: “We received a complaint from the coach on Thursday about the missing cricketer. During the investigation we came to know about a scooty being found abandoned on the roadside at Gurudijhati near the Athagarh forest. Today morning we found the body inside the forest.”

On the nature of death, Mishra said: “The investigation has begun. We will do the inquest of the body followed by a postmortem. Until the report comes, we will not be able to ascertain the nature of death, suicide or murder. The scientific team is on the job” Swain’s sister and relatives blamed the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) and the coach for the death.

“She was with them. As she had raised a finger at the OCA about the selection procedure, someone might have killed her. Why did she choose to go inside a dense forest in a scooty?” her sister said.

The family members said they had received a call from Swain on January 11 morning and she was crying for not being selected.

“She said that though she had performed well, she could not make it because of favouritism in the OCA. She wanted to raise the issue with the OCA,” said another relative.

The chief executive officer of the OCA, Subrat Behera, told The Telegraph: “Rajashree, an off-spinner, was included in the list of 39 probables for the BCCI Senior Women’s Trophy. The selection process was underway for the past one month. We finalised a 25-member list of probables. Later after observing their performance, we finalised a list of 16 players. However, Rajashree failed to make it to the final list. The selection was made for three matches only.”

Denying the charge that she was deliberately being ignored by the OCA, Behera said: “We have an app that analyses the performance of each individual.... Swain had played for the team from 2014 to 2022, failing to make it only in 2020-21. Whenever she performed, she found a place.”

Swain had played 48 matches and bagged 47 wickets at an economy rate of 3.29.

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