Source AP ©

Five-year-old boy determined to walk his marathon despite government ban

A 5-year-old Indian boy who once attempted a 70-kilometer (43-mile) marathon will defy a government decision to ban him from a long-distance walk in searing heat, his coach said Thursday.

Budhia Singh will, however, reduce his walk to 100 kilometers (60 miles), while his supporters will cover the entire 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Bhubaneswar in eastern Orissa state to Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal state, coach Biranchi Das told reporters.

"I will walk to Calcutta and nobody can stop me," said Singh, who also took some questions from reporters.

The walk is scheduled for June 6, a time of year when day temperatures in the region hover around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

The state-run Child Welfare Committee, however, said the ban imposed earlier this week on Singh's proposed walk remained in place.

"The law will take its own course," said Rabi Shankar Mishra, the committee chairman, suggesting that the state government would stop Singh from participating in the marathon walk.

"Use of a child, be it for a marathon run or a walk amounts to torture and we are here to stop that," Mishra said. Singh's long-distance running last year sparked protests from rights activists.

On Thursday, coach Das said he may challenge the government ban in court.

Last year, Singh attempted to run a 70-kilometer (43-mile) marathon, but doctors stopped him after 65 kilometers (40 miles) when he showed signs of extreme exhaustion.

Afterward, doctors found Singh to be undernourished, anemic and under cardiac stress, and the Orissa state government banned him from running until he is older.

Das said he was looking after the best interests of the boy, whose father died when he was 7 months old. His mother, unable to support him, was about to sell him to another villager for 800 rupees (US$18; euro15) when the family met Das two years ago. Das has said he has raised Singh as his son.

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