VIP treatment: IAS officer sent to jail after protests

Journalist K M Basheer (left) and IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman.

IAS officer Sriram Venkitaraman has been sent to a jail on judicial remand ending the 'VIP treatment' he was allegedly enjoying at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, even after being arrested for drunk driving claiming the life of a journalist.

Though the IAS officer was arrested by the police on Saturday, he was allowed to continue treatment at a super specialty private hospital even as he was said to be having only minor injuries.

He was said to be enjoying the comforts of a super deluxe room and even using mobile phones without any restrictions. This triggered strong protests on Sunday with the family of the deceased and the journalists's forums coming out in the open against it.

Subsequently, by Sunday afternoon the police asked the hospital authorities to discharge Sriram and took him in an ambulance to the residence of a local magistrate to complete the judicial remand formalities. After examining the IAS officer inside the ambulance the magistrate ordered that Sriram should be shifted to prison.

Pressure is also mounting on the Kerala government to immediately place the officer under suspension.

K M Basheer, unit chief of Malayalam daily Siraj, was killed after the car driven by the IAS officer rammed into him during the early hours of Saturday in Thiruvananthapuram city.

A Kerala cadres IAS officer of the 2013 batch, Sriram had attained a heroic stature in 2017 as he confronted local politicians of ruling parties and even demolished crosses illegally erected as cover for encroachments in the high-range Idukki district.

A doctor-turned-civil-service officer, that too with a second-rank, Sriram was enjoying a fanfare after his eviction drives. He was also a most sought after guest at many events. 

But with the killing of a scribe by the IAS officer's drunken driving and subsequent attempts to sabotage the case by maintaining that the woman accompanying him was behind the wheels and trying to enjoy the comforts of a private hospital treatment even after being arrested by the police, Sriram's stature has now fallen to that of a villain.

The social media is flooded with criticisms against the IAS officer, who is in his early thirties. Fresh allegations of his craze for late night drunken driving have also emerged.

Sriram, who recently returned after a masters in public health from Harvard, was posted as director survey and land records last week.

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