Pradeep Pattanayak

With the death of health minister Naba Das, his business empire is said to be facing threat as a strong leader from coastal Odisha is allegedly setting eyes on it.

The assassinated minister used to have a stronghold over the coal and transportation business. His dominance over the ash and mineral transportation and coal business grew soon after 2004 when he entered into active politics.

It is discussed that a leader from coastal Odisha is trying to cash in on the space left over by Naba Das. With an intention to step into Naba Das’ space, the said leader has been visiting Jharsuguda frequently. It is also discussed that another leader who is a former minister from the neighbouring district is mediating for him.

The leader was seen having a closed-door meeting with the Sambalpur Collector and the SP at the office of the Northern Range IG on February 17. Earlier on that day, some 30 to 40 people from Rengali and nearby villages under Katarabaga Police limits had forcibly entered a reputed ash company and threatened the employees with dire consequences if the company was not shut down.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Nauri Naik and Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja trained their guns directly at Bhatli MLA Sushant Singh.

“MLA Sushant Singh is trying to capture the business empire set up by Naba Das. Some people at his instance, created a ruckus at an ash company. Such things are going on there,” said Naik.

Congress MLA Saluja said, “The people of MLA Sushant Singh had an encounter with the Naba Das faction. Their intention was to capture the murdered leader’s empire. Now a race has started among the BJD leaders to capture the empire.”

However, while coming out of the office of the Northern range IG, Sushant Singh had said to journalists that he had visited the office to discuss the safety and security arrangements during the CM’s visit.

BJD MLA Bhagirathi Sethi also came in support of Sushant Singh and said, “No leader from the ruling party is involved in it (Naba Das murder case). It is yet to be confirmed if a conspiracy was hatched against him (Naba Das).”

Following the fracas at the ash company on February 17, the police registered an FIR on the basis of company supervisor Amit Majumdar’s complaint. The accused include Deba Narayan Tiwari, a Zilla Parishad member, and Nilambar Rohidas, Sarpanch of Katarabaga.

Anger is simmering in the area as the police let the accused persons go after accepting written undertakings from them.

“We had suspected that there would be disturbances at places which were under Naba Das control. It has already started in Sambalpur,” said Dinesh Jain, an advocate, Jharsuguda.

“Keeping this in mind, the state government should take steps before the situation goes out of control,” he urged.


(Reported by Bhagirathi Sahu and Harihar Chand, OTV)