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Drunk IAS officer held for killing journalist in Kerala road accident

IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman and a medical professional were accompanied by his lady friend Waha Firoz

Saturday August 3, 2019 9:04 PM, IANS

Kerala IAS Officer

Thiruvananthapuram: An IAS officer in Kerala has been arrested over a road accident in which K.M. Basheer, a journalist working with a Malayalam daily, was killed, here on Saturday. He has been charged under non-bailable sections.

IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman and a medical professional were accompanied by his lady friend Waha Firoz, to whom the car belonged, were returning after a late-night party.

Basheer, 35, bureau chief of the "Siraj" newspaper, was returning home on his two-wheeler at around 12.45 a.m. when the car knocked him down in the high security zone area of the state capital. He died on the spot.

Venkitaraman, the director of Surveys, was driving the car at a high speed and was under the influence of alcohol when the accident occurred.

The police arrested Venkitaraman from a private hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for injuries received during the accident. He is likely to be shifted to the state-run medical college hospital.

The arrest followed questioning of his lady friend Firoz, whose statement was also recorded before a magistrate. She told the police the car was being driven by Venkitaraman.

Surprisingly, many CCTV cameras on the road on which the accident took place and is used by VVIPs including the Chief Minister and the Governor, were not working, the police claimed.

A witness to the accident said the car was in a high speed when it hit the bike. The driver was under the influence of alcohol and a lady was with him, the eyewitness added.

Another witness who claimed to have called the police said, "The man driving the car was drunk. He was in total panic after the accident. Soon after the police arrived, he called a taxi and sent the lady away."

'Police Trying To Save The Drunk IAS Official'

Aravind S. Sasi, a senior journalist, said he reached the accident site soon after hearing the news and was shocked that the police, after coming to know that the person involved in the accident was a senior IAS officer, were trying to save him.

"The lady was allowed to go home. Venkitaraman was not given the mandatory blood test and was allowed to get treatment at a private hospital," said Sasi.

Sanjay Gurudin, Commissioner of Police, said probe was on.

"The forensic examination is on. The blood sample of the person can be taken only after following certain procedures. We are going forward as per the law," said Gurudin.

Former Superintendent of Police George Joseph said there was a foul play.

"The police should have immediately taken them into custody and conducted a medical check-up. The delay is nothing but to save the senior IAS official," said Joseph.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists' Thiruvananthapuram unit has demanded from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan proper investigation and justice to the victim.

State Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran said, "In this incident certain things were not done in the right manner. The District Collector and the Transport Secretary have both been asked to submit their reports to the government."

In the afternoon, the body of Basheer was brought to the Press Club where Vijayan, several Ministers and hundreds of people paid their last respects. The body was later taken to his hometown near Kozhikode for the last rites.

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