The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) requested Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan not to revoke the suspension of IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman, who was suspended over the death of journalist KM Basheer in in a road accident in Thiruvananthapuram last year. Sriram was allegedly in an inebriated state and driving the car during the time of the accident.
The journalists alleged that Basheer’s death had happened due to Sriram drinking beyond permissible limits and driving the car. Basheer’s family is also sure that this is a case of drunken driving, the journalists wrote in their letter.
The case is currently being investigated by the Kerala police. If the accused is pressed back into service, then there are concerns that this could influence the investigation in a negative way as the accused is a powerful IAS officer, the letter stated.
The letter also stated that the union hoped for Chief Minister’s Pinarayi’s strong intervention in this case to ensure that justice is served to the accused IAS officer and the family of the deceased.
The letter was signed by KUWJ State President KP Reji and General Secretary ES Subhash.
The incident took place in August 2019. Sriram, who was the Survey Director at the time, was arrested on August 3, 17 hours after the incident. The Kerala police were criticised for causing a delay in taking the IAS officer to hospital to get his blood samples and check the alcohol content in his body, thus destroying crucial evidence in the case.
There was also a delay in filing the first information report (FIR). He was booked under sections 279 (rash driving or riding on a publi way) and 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).