Rajashree Swain, the Odisha cricketer who allegedly went missing from her hotel room, in Cuttack on January 11th. After the conclusion of the selection trials, her body was found in the forest by a forest department official. Rajashree is an all-rounder who was one among the selected 25 players for the Cuttack training camp ahead of a tournament starting on 18th January in Puducherry.
The Police claim that her name was not announced in the 16 probable and it was after the trials, she told her coach that she would return home. However, when she did not return home it raised an alarm and her coach Pushpanjali Banerjee approached the Police to file an FIR, what added to the concern was her phone was switched off. Later her body was recovered from the dense forests.
The Police have called it a case of unnatural death but an investigation to rule out foul play and all other angles are being looked into. Now, it has been reported that a handwritten note has been found. Police had been instrumental in finding her scooter and helmet lying in the same area and the officials investigating the matter also got hold of a handwritten letter from her scooter. The letter states Pushpanjali Banerjee and a former official of the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) liable for her death.
A police officer while speaking to the Hindustan Times said, “A forensic examination of the handwritten letter would be done to ascertain who actually wrote it.” Interestingly, Rajashree’s father claimed that the handwriting on the letter does not resemble his daughter’s but still blames the Odisha Cricket Association for whatever transpired. He added, “My daughter has been murdered and OCA officials are involved in the killing”.
The OCA still believes that from their end, there were no irregularities in the player selection process but the Police will further investigate the matter and question the OCA officials.
The matter got murkier as the Cuttack wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party on 14th January staged a protest outside the OCA seeking an impartial probe into this matter with a BJP leader saying, “She is a renowned athlete. She was an all-rounder. OCA President Pranab Prakash Das is behind her murder. There was no need for the young athlete to go to a dense forest in Athagarh for committing suicide. At a time when the Odisha chief minister is busy promoting the Men’s Hockey World Cup, why is he turning a blind eye towards the injustice meted out to the woman athlete? She was mentally disturbed due to OCA’s favoritism in the selection procedure”.
More to follow.
I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.