A five-year-old Indian boy whose long-distance running last year sparked protests from rights activists, has been barred from going on a proposed 500 kilometre (311 mile) walk, an official said today.
Budhia Singh's 11-day walk from Bhubaneswar in the eastern state of Orissa to Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state, had been scheduled to begin June 6, his coach Biranchi Das announced last week.
"The child welfare committee … has formally decided to impose a ban on Budhia Singh's proposed Bhubaneswar-to-Calcutta walk. The committee felt the walk may have an adverse impact on the child's health," committee chairman, Rabi Shankar Mishra, said.
"Use of a child, be it for a marathon run or a walk amounts to torture and we are here to stop that," Mishra added.
Last year, Singh attempted to run a 70-kilometre (43-mile) marathon, but doctors stopped him after 65 kilometres (40 miles) when he showed signs of extreme exhaustion.
Afterward, doctors found Singh to be undernourished, anaemic and under cardiac stress, and the Orissa state government banned him from running until he is older.
The boy's coach has also been summoned to appear before the committee, Mishra added.
"The committee's decision is most unfortunate. They are unnecessarily harassing Budhia," Das told reporters.
Das has insisted that he is looking after the best interests of the boy, whose father died when he was seven months old.
His mother, unable to support him, was about to sell him to another villager for 800 rupees (€14.54) when the family met Das two years ago. Das has said he has raised Budhia as his son.