Indian politician Naba Das shot dead by police officer

Attacker arrested after chase

Naba Das was shot at close range as he stepped out of his vehicle. Photo: @Naba Kisore Das / Facebook
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An Indian health minister has died after being shot in the chest by a police officer as he arrived for a function in the eastern state of Odisha.

State health minister Naba Das, 60, was shot at close range as he stepped out of his official vehicle in a busy square in the town of Brajarajnagar, 330km north-west of state capital Bhubaneswar.

He was airlifted to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar but died from his injuries. His attacker was captured and arrested after a brief chase on foot.

“A single bullet had entered and exited the body, injuring the heart and left lung and causing massive internal bleeding and injury,” the hospital said. “The injuries were repaired, and steps were taken to improve the pumping of the heart.

“Despite best of efforts, he could not be revived and succumbed to his injuries.”

The government said on Sunday that Mr Das would be accorded state honours. A three-day mourning period has been declared.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik visited Mr Das in hospital on Sunday.

“I am shocked and distressed over the very unfortunate demise of Minister Sri Naba Das,” Mr Patnaik said. “He was a grass-roots person and was loved and respected by all, cutting across parties and sections of people.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences.

“Saddened by the unfortunate demise of Minister in Odisha Government, Shri Naba Kishore Das Ji. Condolences to his family in this tragic hour,” Mr Modi tweeted.

Police named the man they has arrested as Gopal Das, an officer unrelated to the victim, who was seconded to the area for the minister’s visit.

He was part of the police team at the event and he was an assistant sub-inspector posted at Gandhi Chak police station. He reportedly used his service pistol to shoot Mr Das.

A special police team has launched an investigation into the attack. Video footage shows the politician stepping out of his car as a supporter garlands him amid loud drum beats when he is shot at close range.

One of the bullets hit Mr Das in the chest and he slumped in the car.

A police officer was also injured in the shooting before the attacker was caught and arrested, authorities said.

Mr Das was a long-serving state legislator and one of the richest politicians in the state ruled by the Biju Janata Dal party, which has been in power for more than two decades.

He hit the headlines last month over claims that he donated a gold pitcher worth 10 million rupees ($1.2 million) and weighing almost 2kg to a temple. He denied the reports, saying he made donations of $12,000 to the temple.

Updated: January 30, 2023, 7:07 AM