THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It was a veritable fall from grace for Sriram Venkataraman, who earned the moniker of ‘demolition man’ when he cracked down on encroachments in Munnar during his stint as Devikulam sub-collector. The gallant bureaucrat’s image took a beating on Saturday when his popularity on social media platforms was at its zenith.
A medical doctor who cracked the civil services examination of 2013 with second rank in his second attempt after post graduation, Venkitaraman took on the land mafia at Munnar. He locked horns with local politicians, including Devikulam legislator S Rajendran and the powerful leader of Idukki M M Mani, Power Minister in the Pinarayi Cabinet.
But Kerala society stood with Venkataraman and he earned support and praise from all sections. Media gave full support to the dashing, young IAS officer turning him into a hero of sorts and people even found a saviour in him when he pulled down an iron cross erected illegally at Pappathichola in Idukki on encroached land by a Christian evangelical group.
This infuriated Mani who charged Venkitaraman of conspiring with the RSS to bring down the cross. Mani even compared the pulling down of the cross to the Babri Masjid demolition of 1992, leading to a face-off between the CPI and the CPM with the former supporting the young bureaucrat. Amid these developments, he achieved a massive fan following on social media with dozens of pages dedicating to the sub-collector by fans.
But the idol was broken when the car driven by him in an inebriated condition hit a bike in the wee hours of Saturday killing a journalist. Despite eyewitnesses testifying that he was sozzled, he denied driving the car in vain and stated that it was his friend Wafa Firoz who was at the wheel. He also refused to give his blood sample. Later, he was exposed when Wafa gave her secret statement to the magistrate confirming the versions of witnesses, leading to the arrest of the ‘demolition man’.
Licences of Sriram, Wafa to be cancelled
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Motor Vehicles Department has taken steps to cancel the licence of Sriram Venkitaraman for drink-driving and speeding that led to the car accident that killed journalist K M Basheer on Saturday.
A show-cause notice has been served on him under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act. A similar notice has been sent to Wafa Firoze, the owner of the car and co-passenger, for not paying fine for speeding in the past. The car involved in the accident was fined thrice for violating the speed limit.
Wafa, a native of Navaikulam, has not paid fine on any of the occasions. All the violations happened on the Vellayambalam-Kowdiyar stretch on April 4 and August 9 in 2018 and July 7 this year. The city has a maximum speed limit of 55 km per hour. But the car had sped away at 58 kmph, 63 kmph and 63 kmph on three occasions. It has also been decided to cancel the registration of the Volkswagen Vento car bearing registration number KL 01 BM 360 for sticking black cooling film on the car window and glasses.
Joint Transport Commissioner Rajeev Puthalath visited the accident spot and said the accident, prima facie, was due to speeding. A team of motor vehicle inspectors filed a report recommending action. The report said it was an avoidable accident.
Rights panel seeks report
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Acting upon the reports on the alleged delay from the part of Museum Police authorities in collecting the blood samples of the IAS officer and the woman who accompanied him, State Human Rights Commission chairman Justice Antony Dominic sought a report from the State Police Chief. According to the chairman, along with the SPC, the City Police Commissioner will also have to inquire. The probe report will have to be submitted within 10 days.