Thiruvananthapuram: In an early morning accident in the state capital on Saturday, a young journalist’s life was lost after his bike was rammed from behind by a car that carried Sriram Venkataraman, a young Indian Administrative Service Officer.
The mishap took the life of K.M. Basheer, 35 the Thiruvananthapuram bureau chief of local daily Siraj, who is a native of Malappuram district in north Kerala. Venkataraman had hogged media limelight for his strong stand in evicting land encroachers in Idukki district last year.
Early reports indicated that Venkataraman tested positive for alcohol consumption at the time of the incident, but he has submitted that he was not at the wheel when the accident happened.
The car is registered in the name of a woman identified as Wafa Firoz. Venkataraman said she was driving, but two eye witnesses — both of them autorickshaw drivers — have stated that it was a male who was driving at the time of the accident.
Autorickshaw drivers identified as Shafiq and Manikuttan who were at the spot when the accident took place, said the car was speeding, the car driver was drunk, and that the car driver himself came out to help the two-wheeler rider after the accident. Venkataraman also suffered minor injuries in the incident.
Police were not immediately forthcoming about the accident involving an IAS officer, though both autorickshaw drivers said police had reached the spot immediately after the accident.
Both houses of India’s parliament had recently amended the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, with the lower house, Rajya Sabha passing the Bill on July 23. The Bill fixes a maximum penalty of Rs10,000 for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Venkataraman had taken over as Survey and Land Records Director only a few days ago, after a short break for higher education.
Bashir leaves behind his wife Jaseela and two children, Janna and Azmi. He had earlier been the Malappuram staff reporter of Siraj newspaper before being elevated as bureau chief of the paper at Thiruvananthapuram.