A journalist working with a Malayalam daily was killed after his two-wheeler was hit by a car allegedly driven by a drunken IAS officer on Friday night.
The victim was identified as K M Basheer (35), bureau chief of Siraj. IAS officer Sriram Venkataraman was travelling with a woman at the time of the incident.
Confirming that Venkataraman was behind the wheels, Deputy Police Commissioner Kori Sanjaykumar Gurudin said, "According to eyewitnesses and as per evidence collected, it is confirmed that Venkataraman was driving the car in a drunken state."
The incident took place a few metres away from Museum police station in the capital. Basheer died on spot after his bike got sandwiched between Venkataraman’s car and a roadside wall.
An auto driver, Shafeeq, recounted the incident and claimed that the car was driven by the IAS officer. "After the car hit the two-wheeler, a man came out from the driving seat. He was in a drunken state and his car was running at high speed," he told reporters.
However, the IAS officer and his friend were meted out VIP treatment by the police after the accident. The police also went by Venkataraman’s version of events in which the officer claimed that the car was driven by the woman.
Venkataraman, who sustained minor injuries, got himself admitted to a government hospital where he refused to provide blood samples to ascertain whether he was drunk or not at the time of the incident.
While the doctor on duty found the IAS officer in an inebriated state, police did not make any formal request for further procedures. Refusing to undergo a medical examination, Venkataraman moved out of the government hospital and got him admitted in a private hospital.
Besides the IAS officer, his friend also received VIP treatment by the police. Even after Venkataraman claimed that the woman was driving the car, she was allowed to leave in a vehicle arranged by the cops.
The woman was summoned to give a statement before the police only after a group of journalists demanded stringent action against the accused. Cops later also visited the private hospital to collect the blood samples of the IAS officer.
Venkataraman had hit headlines in 2017 when, as the sub-collector in Devikulam, he initiated strong action against illegal constructions in Munnar hill station.
After the CPI(M) leadership in Idukki locked horns with the IAS officer over the latter’s drive against encroachment, Venkataraman was removed as the sub-collector. Presently, he is serving as director of survey department.