Odisha ‘grassroot’ strongman and minister Naba Kishore Das shot dead by policeman : The Tribune India

Odisha ‘grassroot’ strongman and minister Naba Kishore Das shot dead by policeman : The Tribune India


Bhubaneswar, January 29

Odisha’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Naba Kishore Das died hours after he was shot by a policeman while fighting a bullet that pierced his heart and lung, Apollo Hospital officials said.

A team of doctors operated on him after he was airlifted from Jharsugada to Bhubaneshwar, hospital officials said.

Das, who was 60 years old, was shot through the heart around 1 pm at Brajrajnagar city when the minister was on his way to attend a program in the district.

“On surgery, (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 heart pump. He was given urgent ICU care. However, despite best efforts, he could not be revived and succumbed to his injuries,” the hospital said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Odisha Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik condoled the death of Das.

“Saddened by the unfortunate demise of Minister in Odisha Government, Shri Naba Kishore Das Ji. Condolences to his family in this tragic hour. Om Shanti,” Modi said in a tweet.

Patnaik, who was reportedly close to Das, said in a statement that he was shocked and distressed.

“The doctors made every possible effort to save his life. But unfortunately he could not recover. He has successfully executed many initiatives in the health department for the benefit of people,” said Patnaik.

As a leader, Das was instrumental in strengthening the Biju Janata Dal, the CM said, adding, he was a “ground level person” and was “loved and respected by all, cutting across parties and sections of people”. .

Considered a close confidante of Chief Minister Patnaik, who was sworn in as Health and Family Welfare Minister on May 29, 2019, Das continued in the same portfolio even as the Chief Minister came up with a cabinet reshuffle last June .

The health minister’s proactive role during the COVID-19 pandemic may have secured this confidence by the BJD Supremo.

Das is survived by wife Minati and a son and a daughter.

The minister was shot by Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police (ASI) Gopal Das, a policeman who, according to psychiatrists, suffered from bipolar disorder which causes extreme mood swings.

In a video footage owned by PTI, the minister was seen bleeding from the chest with people trying to lift the injured minister, who appeared unconscious, and place him on the front seat of a car.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar, Prateek Singh said a green corridor has been set up in the state capital to transport Das from the airport to the hospital.

Tension prevailed in Brajrajnagar in the wake of the incident, with supporters of the BJD minister questioning “security lapses”.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress has demanded the resignation of Patnaik, accusing him of not maintaining law and order in Odisha.

“When the government is unable to provide security to the cabinet minister, how can it protect the lives of the common man?” said Congress MP Santosh Singh Saluja.

The minister, a strongman in the mining heartland of Jharsuguda, switched from the Congress to the BJD ahead of the 2019 elections. He is known to have business interests in coal mining, transport and hospitality sectors.

Gopal Das’ wife Jayanati told reporters at her residence near Berhampur in Ganjam district that she heard the news about her husband shooting at the minister from television channels.

Jayanti said Das had been suffering from mental disorder for the past seven-eight years but was taking medicine and seemed quite normal.

She said her husband made a video call to their daughter that morning.

Das had no personal enmity with the minister, says Jayanti, and demands a proper inquiry into the matter to find out the truth. PTI

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