When heroes fall…
Affable and hugely promising IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman committed a grave mistake when he rammed his car under the influence of alcohol on journalist K M Basheer’s bike, killing him on the spot that fateful night in Thiruvananthapuram. But the ‘guardian of the rule book’ officer, celebrated by Malayalees young and old, instead of setting an example, decided to do what lesser mortals engage in when they get on the wrong side of the law – dodge it by hook or crook.
The IAS-IPS lobby, on expected lines, have closed ranks to salvage one of their own. Though Kerala Police has come under fire from the High Court for derailing the investigation to save Sriram, there is no denying that an elected government has been rendered impotent by a conniving bureaucracy. The highly influential (that is the perception!) Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) should dissolve itself because it appears to lack the spine to demand accountability from the powers that be.
We have always known that the high and mighty can get away with murder. This is not the first time in Kerala that drunk driving has resulted in the death of a motorist or pedestrian when a famous person or the child of a famous person was behind the wheels. And every time they have made a mockery of the system, colluded with people meant to uphold the law and managed to go scot free.
Sriram, in that sense, is not doing anything different. Yes, he should have had the honesty and integrity to accept his serious lapse of judgment, own up the mistake and face the music. That would not have meant the end of the road for him. Now, his legacy forever will be ‘drunk killer of Basheer’. Was it all really worth it?
Once again, Kerala is flooded just like it was in August 2018. So what did the government do to prevent a repeat, is a very logical question many are asking. Did we not make ourselves believe that 2018 was a ‘once-in-a-century’ calamity? While in 2018 we debated heavy rainfall and imprudent dam management as responsible for the floods, ecological destruction of Western Ghats due to indiscriminate quarrying and mining operations with government sanction was not considered.
Both Gadgil and Kasturirangan Committee reports have confirmed our fears. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should take decisive and corrective action to ensure precious lives are not lost and thousands are not put through misery year after year. Doing the right thing once is better than urging Central Government for natural disaster aid and Malayalees for generous display of empathy, as an annual ritual.