Odisha Minister's Murder: One Month On, Motive of Accused Cop Still Unclear

BJD MLA and Odisha Health Minister Naba Kisore Das was shot and killed by a police officer on 29 January.

4 min read
Hindi Female

While the Opposition parties demand a CBI probe, the state government has sought the help of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the murder of Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das, who was shot dead by a policeman in broad daylight on 29 January in Western Odisha's Brajrajnagar.

While the accused Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Gopal Das has confessed to having committed the crime, the state Crime Branch, which is currently investigating the case, has yet to determine the motive behind the murder.


Here's how the investigation has gone in the month since the murder, a summary:

  • ASI Gopal Das shoots and kills BJD MLA and Odisha Health Minister Naba Kisore Das in Jharsuguda, Odisha

  • Gopal Das confesses to the crime and claims he disposed of a letter in which he mentioned his motivations

  • Crime Branch studies the crime scene with a 3D camera, finds additional cartridges

  • Gopal Das undergoes a layered voice analysis, polygraph, and narco-analysis test

  • A district court rejects the crime branch's requests for further psychoanalysis of the accused in Bengaluru+

  • Odisha Government writes to MHA to seek help from the FBI's Behavioural Analysis Unit 


A Search for Motive Begins in The Sewage Tank

The state government asked the Crime Branch of police to take charge of the investigation under ADG Arun Bothra on the day of the murder. However, while the CB was interrogating family members and friends to find the motive behind the murder, the answer was apparently in the toilet tank of the airport police station in Jharsuguda.

According to the police, the ASI had written a letter before the shooting at the minister in which he mentioned why he wanted to take the step. However, police said that while they detained Gopal at the police station, he flushed the letter and tried to "destroy the evidence".

Crime branch officers had on 1 February fished out around 25 pieces of paper from the septic tank of the police station, where Gopal had written in Odia and English. Crime Branch sent the papers for handwriting analysis.


3-D Recreation of Crime Scene, Voice Analysis and More

The CB has had access to all the necessary tools required to investigate the murder. On Tuesday, 31 January, two days after the shooting, the CB used a FARO 3D scanner to find more evidence from the spot. In addition, the scientific officer and ballistic experts inspected the vehicle used by Naba Das to find out evidence and clues, CB officials told the press on 1 February.

A team of experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Delhi, conducted a layered voice analysis (LVA) on Gopal in Odisha. An LVA test is done to analyse the stress, excitement, confusion and other relevant emotional states in a person by studying the types of patterns and anomalies in the speech flow.

Furthermore, the ASI was taken to the directorate of forensic science (DFS) at Gandhinagar in Gujarat for his polygraph and narco-analysis tests. All the test reports so far have been sent to the Jharsuguda district court.

While the tests weren't conclusive, DFS experts said that Gopal's responses didn't indicate a conspiracy to kill the minister, reported The Times of India. CB officials told TOI that Gopal claimed he was a rebel and killed Naba Das because of his "unethical and corrupt" practices. 


Gopal Das' Mental Health, A Vital Hurdle in Ascertaining Motive

The accused's mental health has been in the spotlight from the very first day when his wife, Jayanti Das, told members of the media that Gopal had been suffering some a mental condition and was on medication.

Psychiatrist Chandra Sekhar Tripathy, who was treating him at the MKCG Medical College and Hospital, Berhampur, corroborated Jayanti's claims and said that Gopal had bipolar disorder for about eight years.

This prompted the Opposition to question the senior officials who were responsible for Gopal's postings and promotions and allowed him to carry a weapon. Retired police officials also criticised Gopal's seniors for neglecting his condition.

According to the crime branch, a special board of four psychiatrists was constituted to examine the mental health of the accused, and it suggested a need for further assessment of his mental condition. However, the Judicial Magistrate First Class-1, Jharsuguda, rejected a plea filed by the CB for a further comprehensive mental evaluation of Gopal Das at NIMHANS Bangalore. Instead, the court asked all other tests to be conducted in Chowdwar jail, where the accused is currently being held.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had not spoken on the matter after the killing, broke his silence in the Assembly last week. Criticising the Opposition for politicising the murder, Patnaik claimed that "no stone will be left unturned in ensuring a full, fair and open investigation in the case".
The crime branch is seeking the help of the US FBI, as they have the best expertise in behavioural analysis in such cases. We have requested the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to facilitate an evaluation of the accused's behaviour by the FBI.
Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM

And Finally, A Media Trial

The high-profile murder of a sitting cabinet minister was bound to get the attention of the regional media, and so it did.

The case has witnessed numerous debates, with former police and administrative officials explaining each update in the case with great detail, politicians engaging in a war of words and so on.

One could also see news anchors and reporters becoming a part of the investigation by analysing old photographs of Naba Das and Gopal Das from when the accused was the personal security officer of the minister. One reporter claimed that the "look" in Gopal's eyes in the old photograph showed that he wanted to kill the minister.

But Odia news channel Kanak News' analysis of the accused's T-Shirt takes the cake. While returning from Gujarat, Gopal was seen wearing a T-Shirt with a graphic of an American thrash metal band Megadeth.

BJD MLA and Odisha Health Minister Naba Kisore Das was shot and killed by a police officer on 29 January.

A link to the video can be found here. 

(Source: YouTube/Screenshot)

The reporter claimed that the T-Shirt was a "negative sign". The reason? Megadeth's first song was titled "Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!".

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Topics:  odisha 

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