Indian police stop child from entering 500km walk

FIVE-YEAR-OLD Budhia Singh, who became a celebrity after a seven-hour run that sparked charges of abuse, was stopped by police yesterday from participating in a 500km walking event.

The child was stopped from setting off in the scorching heat after authorities cited a government order that labelled an earlier such stunt as “torture”.

Dozens of police officers blocked a road in Bhunbaneshwar, Orissa state, preventing Singh from beginning his 10-day trek to Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal. Singh ran a 65km marathon in the same state last year.

“We have an order that Budhia Singh should not be allowed to participate in the proposed walkathon,” Amitabh Thakur, superintendent of police, told reporters in Bhunbaneshwar as the blazing sun warmed the town to 37.8 degrees Celsius.

Singh’s mother, his coach Biranchi Das, and nearly 50 supporters argued with police and later began a sit-in protest on the road where police blocked Singh.

The boy’s supporters sang “Long live Budhia” and “Down with Child Welfare Committee”.

In May 2006, Singh attempted to run a 43-mile marathon, igniting protests from child rights activists. Doctors stopped him after 40 miles when he showed signs of extreme exhaustion.

Afterwards, they found him to be undernourished, anaemic and under cardiac stress. Subsequently, the Orissa state government banned him from running until he is older.

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