Balabhaskar's death: A disapproved marriage, fateful accident & confusing witness statements

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Keralites, who love Balabhaskar and his soulful music, are too eager to know what exactly happened to their favorite musician.

The probe team investigating the accident which claimed the life of celebrated violinist Balabhaskar is trying to uncover whether Prakash Thampi who got arrested in the gold smuggling case and Vishnu Somasundaram who is an accused in the same case and is on the run, have got anything to do with the accident. They are also awaiting the results of the forensic tests of the blood samples collected from the car to ascertain who was driving the car during the time of the accident.

The case was initially investigated by the Managalapuram police and they had been proceeding as any other accident case. However, the turning point came when Balabhaskar’s father CK Unni, on 23 November 2018, submitted a complaint to the DGP alleging foul play in his son’s death. The case was then transferred to the Attingal DySp. When Unni, in another complaint, alleged that the investigation was lagging and that the officers haven’t recorded his and wife’s statements, the case was allotted to the crime branch.

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From Left: Driver Arjun, Balabhaskar and Prakash Thampi

That was how the new probe team had taken up the case in which Prakash Thampi got arrested in the gold smuggling case. Vishnu was also implicated in the case. The mystery surrounding the musician’s death intensified after it was revealed that Prakash Thampi and Vishnu acted as coordinators for Balabhaskar’s concerts. The investigating team is determined to leave no stone unturned and they have already interrogated Prakash Thampi.

Meanwhile, stage artist Kalabhavan Soby, in his statement, said that he had spotted two unidentified men, in suspicious situation, at the accident site. The CCTV visuals from the juice parlor at Pallimukku, Kollam and the blood samples collected from the car would provide crucial evidences to ascertain who was on the driving seat on the fateful night.

The hard disk has been sent for scientific test to recover the old CCTV visuals. The blood samples collected from each seat in the car too has been sent for forensic test. The samples on the driver’s seat would confirm who was on it when the accident had taken place.

The probe team has already reached the conclusion that driver Arjun had been driving the car during the time of the accident. However, contrary to this, a KSRTC bus driver who rushed to the accident spot and took part in the rescue had stated that Balabhaskar was on the driver’s seat. His statement cannot be ignored as he is a prime witness in the case.

Meanwhile, driver Arjun, who is the sole accused in the case right now, has reportedly left the state. Prakash Thampi, in his statement, said that he had collected the CCTV visuals from the juice parlor, to find out the truth, after Arjun had changed his initial statement that he had driven the car. The probe team says that Arjun too has to be interrogated to find out whether the accident is related to the gold smuggling case.

A disapproved marriage and controversies

Even though everyone admired Balabhaskar and his incredible art, not many know about the musician’s turbulent relationship with his family. Balabhaskar’s parents who had wished for their son to become a renowned musician were shocked to hear the news of his wedding to his college sweet heart. They were devastated when they realized that Balabhaskar had rushed into an early marriage, even ignoring his ailing sister. This incident created a rift between the musician and his family. The couple then had the support of only a few friends who stood with them while registering the marriage as well.

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Balabhaskar and wife Lakshmi

Balabhaskar apparently shared a close friendship with a doctor and his family based in Palakkad. His wife Lakshmi used to stay with the doctor’s family when Balabhaskar went for concerts abroad. Driver Arjun too is a close relative of the doctor.

Though Balabhaskar shared a warm rapport with his father, his relationship with his mother was still strained. However, a few months before he died in the accident, Balabhaskar reconciled with his parents and both families had since been on amazing terms. Some even ask whether all these are part of a confrontation between Balabhaskar’s family and his friends, by making allegations against each other. The ongoing investigation hopefully would solve all the puzzles and mysteries surrounding Balabhaskar’s death. Until then, there is one person who is destined to witness this, bearing excruciating emotional and physical pain - Balabhaskar’s wife Lakshmi.

Balabhaskar’s father CK Unni has raised suspicions about Prakash Thampi and Vishnu’s roles in his son’s death. He has even posed some questions that needed to be answered by the investigating team:

> Arjun had initially admitted that it was him who drove the car. The doctors, after examining the nature of his injuries, too have confirmed that Arjun was on the driver’s seat. Unni asks whether Arjun was forced to change his initial statement following anyone’s interference.

> Prakash Thampi and Vishnu, who are accused in the gold smuggling case, were Balabhaskar’s close aides. Unni suspects their involvement in the accident.

> Unni claims that the musician had admitted lending money to Dr. Ravindranath and his wife in Palakkad. He wants the investigating team to probe whether there is any connection between this and the accident.

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Balabhaskar's father Unni

> Balabhaskar had booked room in Thrissur to spend the night there, after performing puja at some temples. Unni has doubts about why Balabhaskar had abruptly changed his decision and hit the road at night itself. He is suspicious whether his son had done so following someone’s instructions.

> The accident has happened just a short while after Balabhaskar reconciled with his family. Unni is concerned whether it has got anything to do with the accident.

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The fateful accident; Arjun drove the car

The police team which investigated the case initially has no doubts that it was an accident. The evidences and statements by the witnesses too point towards it. The statement given by the KSRTC bus driver that no other vehicle was involved in the accident is crucial.

Would the passengers in the car deliberately create a fatal accident? Nandu, who was involved in the rescue, however, had stated that it was Arjun who had driven the car. The investigating team is awaiting the results of the forensic tests to confirm the contradictory statements.

Truth will soon come out: crime branch

The crime branch said that all the allegations made by Balabhaskar’s father would be thoroughly investigated. They would soon confirm who was on the driver’s seat during the time of the accident and would probe whether it was sabotaged. Every detail of Balabhaskar’s fateful journey from Thrissur to Thiruvananthapuram would be investigated.

No financial deals: Dr. Ravindranath

Meanwhile, Dr. PMS Ravindranath, who runs the Poonthottam ayurvedic hospital in Palakkad admitted that he had borrowed Rs 10 lakh from Balabhaskar. However, he claimed that the amount was returned two months later. He added that the duo hadn’t involved in any another financial deal. “Balabhaskar had purchased 50 cents of land, adjacent to my hospital. I have no idea who was driving the car. Driver Arjun is a close relative of my wife. It was Balabhaskar himself who hired Arjun as a temporary driver. My wife Latha had called them on the phone to enquire whether they have reached safely. However, police picked up the phone and informed us about the accident,” said the doctor.

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Dr Ravindranath

The doctor revealed that he met Balabhaskar, 15 years ago, when the latter had come to Cherpulassery to perform at a concert. He said that the musician used to visit him occasionally and had even once stayed at his hospital for as long as a month.

Arjun drove the car: Lakshmi

Balabhaskar’s wife, who is currently convalescing at the family’s house, has always maintained that it was Arjun who had driven the car from Thrissur to where the accident had taken place. She, in a statement, said that Arjun had admitted to many, including her mother, that he was driving the car. She confirmed that the family had known Prakash Thampi for the last 7 years. “I never said I didn’t know Prakash Thampi. All I said was he was not Balu’s manager. It was Prakash Thampi who coordinated some concerts in Kerala,” said Lakshmi.

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She revealed that Prakash had reached the hospital after the accident and had even helped them. Lakshmi clearly states that neither she nor Balu had any doubts about Prakash Thampi’s alleged involvement in gold smuggling. She too admitted that Balu had lent money to the doctor. She, however, added that the doctor had paid the amount back. Lakshmi is determined to go to any extent to reveal whether there was any foul play in the accident.

Confusing witness statements

Aswin M Jayan (Nandu), a native of Varkala Chavarkode and his elder brother Pranav were returning from the airport, fetching their relatives, when they witnessed a car rammed into a tree near the Plallipuram junction. He says that the glass window on the left side was broke open to take out the child. “A person wearing bermuda and t shirt was on the driver’s seat. On, the rear seat, another person wearing a kurta was sitting with his head down. It was Pranav who accompanied the police when the child was rushed to the medical college. I realized it was Balabhaskar and his family only when Pranav returned from the hospital. I immediately identified the person, wearing kurta, whom I saw in the back seat as Balabhaskar,” said Nandu.

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Aswin M Jayan (one of the witness of the accident spot)

Meanwhile, C Aji, the driver of the KSRTC bus which was following the musician’s car has a different version. “We started from Attingal after I and the conductor had tea. After some time, two cars overtook the bus. One of the cars, while negotiating the curve after the Pallipuram signal, careened off the road and rammed a tree with a huge bang. I immediately pulled the bus over on the side and rushed to the spot. A child was lying near the gear lever and a woman was lying unconscious at the front seat. The window glass was smashed using a car jack to take out the child and then the woman. The people who had come rushing to the spot broke open the door and took out the person sitting on the back seat. The man on the driver’s seat was then taken out. Balabhaskar was on the driver’s seat,” claims Aji.   

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Aji, witness, KSRTC driver
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