//Human rights body urged to act over "marathon boy"

Human rights body urged to act over "marathon boy"

Wed May 3, 2006 6:09 PM IST166

 NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A human rights group on Wednesday urged action against officials in Orissa who it said had endangered the life of a four-year-old boy by making him run for seven hours in sweltering temperatures.

Local TV stations and newspapers splashed Budhia Singh's image over screens and frontpages on Tuesday after the boy ran for 65 km in a successful bid to become the youngest Indian to cover that distance.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights said the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) should press for disciplinary measures against senior state government officials who took part in the attempt.

Orissa's sports minister was at hand as a totally exhausted Budhia completed his run, while dozens of police officers ran alongside the boy.

"It is an act done so rashly or negligently to endanger human life or the personal safety of others as defined under section 336 of the Indian Penal Code," Suhas Chakma, the centre's director said in a statement.

Critics lashed out at the boy's coach, Biranchi Das, a local judo teacher who adopted Budhia after his poverty-stricken mother sold him for less than $20 when he was a year old.

But Das said doctors had found nothing wrong with Budhia after his run.

Chakma urged the human rights commission to ensure that a team of medical experts examined the boy, said to train for several hours a day, to assess his health.

Das denied he was exploiting his ward for money.

"He is a wonder boy … running comes naturally to him," he told Reuters in Bhubaneswar, Orissa's capital.