The Thiruvananthapuram bureau chief of Siraj newspaper, KM Basheer (35), passed away on Saturday after being hit by a car when he was riding on his bike near the museum public office in Thiruvananthapuram.
Survey Director Sriram Venkitaraman, IAS, was travelling in the car that was allegedly overspeeding, and rammed into Basheerâ€™s bike early on Saturday morning. But it remains unclear if the IAS officer was driving the car, or a woman friend of his named Wafa was. The car reportedly belongs to Wafa.
According to reports, both Sriram and his friend Wafa have reportedly told the police that she had been driving the car during the accident. Though Malayalam media has reported that there was ambiguity over who was driving the car, the Commissioner of police told TNM that all aspects of the accident are being looked into by the investigating officers.
The 35-year-old journalist who was taken to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital immediately after the accident had passed away by then, reports state.
Sriram, meanwhile, has sustained minor injuries and was admitted to the KIMS hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. City Police Commissioner Dinendra Kashyap told TNM that the police are examining if Sriram was under the influence of alcohol.
Visuals from the accident site show that the Basheerâ€™s bike had skid 100 mts after the car rammed into it. Parts of the car and bike are also seen scattered on the stretch where the accident took place.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took to social media to express his heartfelt condolences at the news of Basheerâ€™s death.
â€śBasheer was notable among the journalists in the capital because of his pleasant behaviour and active work. I share the grief of the family members,â€ť the Chief Minister added.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said that Basheer was a hardworking journalist and the fact that he became a bureau chief at such a young age showed his commitment to the profession.
Also read: Sriram IAS was driver in accident that killed journo: Kerala cops, eyewitnesses say
Basheer had started his journalism career as Tirur local reporter of Siraj in 2003 and later became the staff reporter in Malappuram. He then joined the Thiruvananthapuram bureau as a staff reporter and was later promoted as the Bureau Chief.
Sriram had become a well-known name in Kerala in 2017 when he was the Sub-Collector of Devikulam in Idukki district. The IAS officer was heading the anti-encroachment drive in Munnar, which caused a political storm in the state, and he locked horns with CPI(M) minister MM Mani. He was transferred out in July 2017. Sriram had later taken a sabbatical to study Public Health at the Harvard University. He returned to Kerala earlier this year and assumed office as Survey Director.
Sriram Venkitaraman IAS
Also read: Blood sample of Sriram IAS taken in Basheer accident case: How cops read alcohol levels