Gopal Das pushed me aside and went to the Minister and opened fire at him as soon as he stepped out of his car. A supporter of Naba Das, who was present at the crime scene on Sunday, said this on Tuesday.
Subhendu Pattanayak, an eyewitness to the gruesome killing of the Minister, said, “Accused ASI Gopal Das was earlier posted at Belpahar police station. I have known him since then. On that day, he was at the spot in uniform. We had a formal chit-chat for around 15 minutes.”
“When the Minister arrived at the spot, I along with some others went towards him to welcome him. Just then Gopalkrushna went ahead pushing us aside. When I asked him why he was in so haste, he said he had something to discuss with the Minister. As the Minister was getting down from his vehicle and we were welcoming him shouting slogans and garlanding him, he came from behind and opened fire at the Minister,” added Pattanayak.
“At that time, it seemed the distance was around 4 to 5 feet. But he shot from a very close range,” Pattanayak further added.
Notably, ASI Gopal Das was deployed at Gandhi Chhak for traffic management on Sunday as late Health Minister Naba Das was scheduled to attend a programme nearby. At the scheduled time, Naba Das reached the spot in his vehicle. As he was alighting from his car, Gopal Das came close to him and opened fire at the Minister.
The severely injured Minister was rushed to Jharsuguda DHH. From there, he was airlifted to a private hospital in Bhubaneswar. However, he succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.
Subsequently, Das was arrested and produced before the JMFC’s residential court in Jharsuguda. He is currently lodged at Jharsuguda sub-jail.