Odisha Health and Family Welfare Minister Naba Kishore Das died on Sunday evening in Bhubaneshwar, hours after he was shot in the chest by a police sub-inspector.
The minister was heading to an event in the state’s Jharsuguda district when the officer – identified as Gopal Das – allegedly shot him in the left side of the chest. Disturbing visuals of the murder show the minister disembarking from his vehicle.
Within a minute, he collapsed into the car, clenching his chest with both hands. Critically wounded, the politician was airlifted to Bhubaneshwar where he succumbed to his injuries.
The Odisha government on Sunday said it will accord a state funeral to the 60-year-old politician.
Naba Kishore Das was one of the most influential politicians in the state. He defected from the Congress in 2019. Soon, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made him the health minister. He recently made headlines when he donated gold worth Rs 1 crore to a temple in Maharashtra.
Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police (ASI) Gopalkrushna Das, who been caught after he shot dead Odisha’s health Minister Naba Kishore Das here, was being treated for bipolar disorder by a psychiatrist.
Despite the history of mental disorder, it is not known how Das was issued a service revolver and appointed in-charge of a police post at Brajrajnagar where he shot dead Das.
MKCG Medical College and Hospital, Berhampur, Psychiatry department head Dr Chandra Sekhar Tripathy told reporters that Das was suffering from bipolar disorder.
“Das had first visited my clinic about eight to ten years ago. He used to get angry very easily and was undergoing treatment for this,” Dr Tripathy said.
“I am not sure whether he was taking medicines regularly. If medicine are not taken regularly, the disease reappears. It has been a year since he visited me last,” th doctor said.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that ranged from hyper-mania to depression, according to experts. However, the disease can be controlled by treatment including counselling.
Das was a resident of Jaleswarkhandi village of Ganjam district. He started his career in police as a constable in Berhampur and was later transferred to Jharsuguda district 12 years ago.
Jharsugda SDPO Gupteswar Bhoi said the ASI was issued a licensed pistol after he was made in-charge of a police outpost at Gandhi Chhak of Brajrajnagar area.
His wife said the officer had been mentally unstable and was taking medicines for over eight years. He appeared to be normal when he visited home 4-5 months ago.
“Earlier, he was fine, but his mind was not quite right. He was taking medicine…for the last 7/8 years. He didn’t have any problem. He came home 4/5 months ago. Everything was normal,” his wife added.
Official sources said that Das was Sunday deployed for law and order arrangement for minister Naba Das’s visit. Before opening fire at the minister, Das had kept his motorcycle nearly 50 metres away from the spot were he attacked Das.
He allegedly opened fire while the minister alighted from a car to attend a local programme and his supporters were garlanding him.
Though he fired two rouds targeting the minister, only one of hit the target. Immediately after the incident, Das attempted to flee from the spot by firing at the air, but was captured, police said.
“He was was immediately overpowered and detained for questioning,” SDPO Bhoi said.
However, the reason behind the ASI opening fire at the minister was yet to be ascertained, he said.
Meanwhile, officials said the crime Branch of Odisha Police has taken over the case relating to killing of the health minister.
A seven member special Investigating team comprising Cyber Expert, Ballistic Expert and officers of Crime Branch has been formed, a senior CB official said adding that the team is led by Ramesh Ch Dora, deputy Superintendent of Police rank officer.
He along with a balastics expert have reached Jharsuguda by helicopter to start the investigation.
Arun Bothara IPS, ADGP, CID-CB has also accompanied them to personally supervise and monitor the probe.
The CID Crime Branch has registered a case under section 307 IPC read with 27 Arms Act, an official said.