A journalist working for a Malayalam daily, Siraj was killed on Saturday after being hit by a speeding car believed to be driven by an IAS officer in Thiruvananthapuram.
The accident occurred when 35-year-old KM Basheer, bureau chief of the Malayali daily, was returning home on his two-wheeler at around 12.45 am when the car knocked him down in the high security zone area of the state capital where he died on the spot.
The area where the accident took place is often used by VVIPs, including the Chief Minister and the Governor. However, the police said many of the CCTV cameras in the area were not working.
“I was overtaken by the speeding car after which it hit the bike. The driver was under the influence of alcohol. A lady was also with him,” a witness told the media. Another witness said, “The man who was driving the car was drunk. He was in total panic after the accident and it was me who called the police. Soon the police arrived and he called a taxi and sent away the lady who was with him.”
According to records from the State Motor Authority, the car belonged to Waha Firoz who was accompanying the IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman who was allegedly driving the car at the time of the accident. A 2012 batch IAS officer and Director of Survey and Land Records, Venkitaraman is a doctor by training.
Senior journalist Aravind S Sasi told the media that he reached the accident site soon after hearing the news and was surprised to know that the police was trying to save the culprit after coming to know that the person involved in the accident was a senior IAS officer.
“The lady was allowed to go home soon after the accident, while Venkitaraman was not taken for the mandatory blood test and he sought treatment at a private hospital,” said Sasi.
The local Museum Police station officials said that Venkitaraman was under the influence of alcohol. Sanjay Gurudin, Commissioner of Police, said a detailed probe is going on.
“All the forensic examination is going on. The blood sample of the person can be taken only after certain procedures are followed. 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 should have gone for a medical check up. This delay is nothing but a way to save the senior officer,” said Joseph.
The Thiruvananthapuram unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists has asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to see that the police should ensure a proper investigation and justice to the victim.
State Transport Minister AK Saseendran said that an IAS officer should behave in a responsible manner.
“In this incident, what has come to notice is that certain things have not happened in the right manner. Strict action would be taken against all those who have tried to play truant. The district collector and Transport secretary have both been asked to prepare their reports and submit to the government,” said Saseendran.