The IAS official, an accused in the death of journalist KM Basheer, had been suspended from service for several months earlier.

Sriram with his beard and specs is wearing a light coloured shirt and speaking
news Controversy Monday, November 02, 2020 - 19:08

Prime accused in the death of journalist KM Basheer, Sriram Venkitaraman, an Indian Administrative Service official, was removed from his post in the fact finding team of the Kerala government's Public Relations Department (PRD). He was appointed as a governing council member of the team in October.

Sriram had been in suspension for many months following the accident in which Basheer was killed in August of 2019. He and a woman named Wafa Firoz were in the car that hit Basheer's bike in the early hours of August 3, on the road outside the Museum in Thiruvananthapram.

The IAS official was accused of drunken driving and named the first accused in the case while Wafa was named the second accused.

Sriram, who is also a medical doctor, was however taken back in service in March this year, to work in the Health Department to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that had just broken out.

There were voices of protest raised against his appointment both in the health department and later in the PRD. Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennitha spoke against the decision to appoint him in PRD, accusing the government of ‘protecting all those who have done wrong’.

Sriram and Wafa, who missed three court hearings of the case, were granted bail during the fourth hearing at the Vanchiyoor court in Thiruvananthapuram in October. The judicial first class magistrate court also later agreed to his request for accessing the CCTV visuals and other evidence related to the case.

There were issues raised about the way the police had dealt with the case right from the time of the accident, causing unusual delay in taking the blood test of Sriram after he was suspected of drunken driving. The charge sheet was filed nearly six months after the accident, with 100 witnesses and 75 materials of evidence.  

Also read: A year since journalist Basheer’s death: No trial yet, accused IAS officer back in service

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