Indian men’s hockey defender Birendra Lakra, who was part of the 2021 Tokyo Olympic bronze medal-winning squad, has come under the scanner for his role in the alleged murder of his flatmate.
The deceased, Anand Kumar Toppo, was Lakra's friend and flatmate who died under mysterious circumstances earlier this year. Anand died on February 28 in Bhubaneswar. His body was found hanging in the flat where Lakra lived. On being rushed to the hospital, the doctors announced him as being brought in dead. The circumstances surrounding Lakra's death, are yet to be ascertained.
Olympic bronze medal-winning Indian hockey star Birendra Lakra announced retirement with immediate effect on September 21, 2021, hours after his teammate Rupinder Pal Singh announced his retirement.
Lakra has had an illustrious career, representing India in over 200 matches. He also recently led the Indian men's side in the 2022 Hero Men’s Asia Cup.
Father of the deceased shares details of the case
Almost four months after the alleged murder, Bandhan Toppo, Anand's father, has accused the police of placing the case under wraps. Toppo has also accused Birendra Lakra and a girl, Manjit Tete, of killing his son.
Speaking about the death of his 28-year-old son, Bandhan Toppo told PTI:
“We and Birendra were next-door neighbours, so naturally Anand was his childhood friend. On February 28, we got a call from Birendra that Anand is unconscious and he is taking him to the hospital. He later informed us that Anand is no more.
We asked him what had happened but he just told us to come to Bhubaneswar. We reached there the next day and we were taken to the local police station where the officer told us Anand had committed suicide. But there was no suicide note."
He further added:
“I tried to lodge an FIR at the local police station but they didn’t entertain me saying it is a suicide. Then after a few days, I went to the DCP office and filed a complaint but after waiting for four months for any action, we finally decided to go to the media.
I want justice for my son. I don’t have trust in Odisha Police as they are trying to save Lakra because he is a big man and one of them. I want an independent inquiry into the mysterious death of my son.”
Also read: Birendra Lakra announces retirement from hockey