Murder of Minister: Chief Minister’s murky manners call for judicial enquiry

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is silent till now on the murder of health minister Naba Kishore Das, even though he had rushed, with unusual haste, to the private hospital, where, airlifted from Jharsuguda he was to reach for “urgent treatment”.This silence is mysterious.

How had he seen his minister in the hospital? Was he dead or alive? What treatment he had obtained in the hospital?

On Jan.29 a Police ASI had fired at him point blank at Brajarajnagar in the district of Jharsuguda and the bullet had gushed out in his back after piercing through the heart. Situation was so serious that instead of normal investigation, the Director General of Police had to issue a prompt order to the Crime Branch to investigate into the murder. A retired judge of the Orissa High Court has started superintending the investigation as per order of the Court in response to the CM’s request.

Opposition parties have been demanding for investigation through an agency beyond the boundary of Orissa, as to them, CB being a part of the Police, investigation against the police officer who pumped his bullets into the heart of the minister, may not be impartial.

We do not subscribe to this suspicion.

Investigation into unnatural deaths vests in the police.

There is nothing unusual in the Police asking its Crime Branch to investigate and report. Requisition of a sitting or retired judge to supervise the investigation is also not unusual

But to us, unusual is the Chief Minister’s stand in this case. He had rushed to the hospital with his Hanuman-like loyal secretary much ahead of the ambulance carrying the “critically injured” minister was to reach the hospital. He saw in his own eyes his “critically injured” colleague when he was collected from the ambulance by the hospital staff. The bullet had caught him full in the chest and piercing the heart had gushed out in the back inter alia rupturing the lungs.

Was he alive for so many hours? Was he really alive? Had the CM seen him alive? Medico-legal investigation into whether or not he was dead by the time the CM and his Hanuman saw him in the hospital is what really is essential.

We prefer an investigation into whether or not Naba Kishore Das was dead by the time the CM saw him in the Hospital. If he was dead, why the drama of treatment was enacted? From the medico-legal point of view, if he was dead before being airlifted from Jharsuguda, post-mortem should have been conducted in the hospital there. Under whose orders, the local police did not do it there? If he was not dead by then, he should have been taken to the Medical College at Cuttack or to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar. Under whose orders, hw was taken to the private hospital for treament? If he was alive, what treatment he received in the private hospital and exactly when he died? The answer with the post-mortem report of the Capital Hospital along with the eye-witness statement of the Chief Minister must be a must for investigation. The police ASI murdered him, how the police ASI murdered him is not important for the public. If the police ASI murdered him under instigation by some one else, determination of that some one is also not important for the public. Whether or not the Chief Minister was staging a drama through out and whether or not the people were misled for a pretty long time by that drama is what the investigation must bring out.

In order to keep himself aboveboard, the CM should promulgate a term of reference to this extent by converting the judicial supervision of the ongoing investigation to a judicial enquiry.

This being the first killing of a sitting minister in Orissa, the matter is serious.

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