The Odisha Health and Family Welfare Minister Naba Kisore Das was shot dead by an assistant sub inspector of police in western Odisha town of Brajarajnagar on January 29.
The shooter was identified as Gopal Das, who was posted in the Gandhi Chowk police outpost of Brajarajnagar. He had earlier served the Minister in the capacity of his personal security officer.
On January 29 afternoon, Mr. Gopal Das reportedly fired from his service revolver at Gandhi Chowk where the Minister was stepping out of his vehicle to wave to his supporters. Mr. Naba Kisore Das had been scheduled to inaugurate an office in Brajarajanagar.
Also Read | Odisha Government to accord State honour to deceased Naba Kishore Das
“As per preliminary information, the Minister was going to attend a function within Brajarajnagar police station limits. Around 12.10 p.m., when he came out of the vehicle, one person opened fire at him from a very close range,” said Deepak Kumar, Inspector General of Police (northern) range. “The inspector in charge of Brajarajnagar police station and a constable immediately overpowered the assailant. After two rounds of fire, the two police personnel managed to change the direction of his revolver-holding hand towards the sky. In this process, the inspector in charge sustained injuries and another person was hit by a bullet,” he added.
Succumbed to injuries
Hit by two rounds of bullets, the Minister collapsed. He was rushed to the Jharsuguda District Headquarters hospital, after which he was flown to Bhubaneswar for further treatment at the Apollo Hospital.
Despite the doctors’ efforts, he was declared dead around 8 p.m. Sunday evening. “It was found that a single bullet had entered and exited the body, injuring the heart and left lung and causing massive internal bleeding and injury. The injuries were repaired, and steps were taken to improve the pumping of the heart. He was given urgent ICU care. But despite the best of efforts, he could not be revived. He succumbed to his injuries,” said a statement issued by Apollo Hospital.
CM condemns attack
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condemned the attack on the Health Minister. “I am shocked and distressed over the very unfortunate demise of Minister Das,” he said. “He was an asset for both the government and the party. He has successfully carried out many initiatives in the health department to the benefit of the people. As a leader, he was instrumental in strengthening the Biju Janata Dal (BJD),” said the Odisha CM and BJD supremo.
The crime branch of the State police has been ordered to probe the fatal attack. Additional Director General of Police Arun Bothra, along with a seven-member crime branch team, rushed to the spot for further investigation. The Odisha police did not issue any statement regarding the motivations of the shooter, his mental condition, or whether the murder was preplanned.
‘Shooter had manic depressive disorder’
Family members of the accused police officer said that he had been suffering from mental depression. A Berhampur-based psychiatrist who was treating him also confirmed that Mr. Gopal Das was under his treatment for manic depressive disorder.
“The person had recovered from the disease due to regular medication. However, there was every chance of relapsing of the disorder if prescribed medicines are not taken regularly. Since he was posted away in Jharsuguda district, I have no idea if he was taking medicines as per advice,” said Chandrasekhar Tripathy, the psychiatrist treating Mr. Gopal Das.
Meteoric rise in politics
The victim, Mr. Naba Kisore Das, was a three-time MLA from the Jharsuguda Assembly constituency, and one of the richest politicians in Odisha. He had a flourishing transport business in the mineral-rich Jharsuguda region and owned about 70 high-value vehicles, according to his property statement.
He had a meteoric rise in politics, having won three consecutive elections from Jharsuguda since 2009 -- twice as a Congress candidate and once on the BJD ticket. Once the working president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, he switched sides just before the 2019 elections. Upon his victory, he was made the State’s Health and Family Welfare Minister in the BJD government.