Two members of a gang suspected to have executed the killing of Biranchi Das, former coach of marathon kid Budhia Singh, were arrested on Monday.
“We have collected ‘strong evidence’ in connection with the killing and would soon announce the arrest of the main accused,” police said.
According to the police, Raja Acharya, a local gangster wanted in several cases of murders and extortions, has emerged as the key suspect.
Investigating officers said Acharya wanted to marry an Oriya starlet Leslie Tripathy. Not keen on this relationship, Tripathy lodged an FIR against Acharya for harassing her. It led to Acharya’s arrest though he was released on bail.
Biranchi, who had “met the starlet once,” asked Acharya not to harass her. This created a rift between them. “The love angle could be one of the reasons, but no definite conclusions could be drawn at this stage,” Bhubaneswar police commissioner Binoy Behera told HT.
Tripathy has, however, denied that she had ever sought Biranchi’s help. “I had met Biranchi once but I had never sought any help from him”, she said.
One inmate of the State Judo Association Hall, who allegedly heard the conversation between Biranchi and the assailant before the coach was killed, told the police: “Just before 7 p.m. that day, I stepped out and heard Biranchi pleading with a man, ‘Raja, please don’t shoot.’
“While this man fired at Sir (Biranchi), another person wearing a helmet was on the bike and they fled the scene immediately.”
Police haven’t ruled out a contentious railway scrap deal and a extortion related dispute as other possible motives behind the crime.
Behera said, “The police are working on all these three motives. At this stage, it will be difficult to say what exactly led to the killing of Biranchi Das.”