Thiruvananthapuram: The Crime Branch has deduced that a burn sustained by IAS official Sriram Venkitaraman in the car accident that killed journalist K M Basheer could turn crucial in the case.
The probe team has pointed out that if the air bag inflated instantly during a collision, then the person holding on to the steering wheel could sustain burn injuries on the hand.
The probe team believes that the hand injury can prove Sriram was driving the car that knocked down Basheer’s bike near the Museum Junction in Thiruvananthapuram around 12:55am on August 3. His woman friend Wafa Firoze, the car owner, was also in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
In an explanation submitted recently to the Chief Secretary, Sriram had reiterated that he was not drunk nor was he driving the car at the time of the accident. The IAS official, who has been placed under suspension over the accident, instead said that Wafa was behind the wheel on that fateful night. However, Wafa had rejected Sriram's allegations.
Experts at car manufacturing companies have also said that when the air bag inflates, the powder in it can cause burns or bruises. If the forensic tests prove that Sriram sustained the burn injuries on his hand when the air bag inflated, then it would prove to be a crucial piece of evidence. The officers believe that they can thus prove that Sriram was behind the wheel at the time of the accident.
The fact that Wafa did not sustain any injuries in the accident also hints at the possibility that Sriram was driving the car at the time of the accident.
The medical board had found that Sriram had sustained injuries to his left-hand wrist.
The then Museum SI, who was at the site soon after the accident, had told reporters that the IAS official had injuries on both his hands. Sriram's clothes and the evidence gathered from the car have been sent to the forensic lab for tests, the Crime Branch officials said.
Finding the speed
The probe team had made vain attempts to ascertain the speed at which the car was travelling during the time of the accident.
Sriram was heading to Palayam after a party at a flat in Kowadiar when the accident happened. Sriram had got into the car from Kowadiar and the accident happened in front of the public office at the Museum junction. Though the CCTV cameras from Kowardiar to Museum Junction were checked, no image of the car speeding was found.
The Crime Branch had then sought the help of the car manufacturing company.
The experts from the company had examined the car and they were also given all the information they asked for. However, they said as the car did not have an event data recorder, it was not possible to retrieve all the data. The report is yet to be handed over.
The event data recorder can observe the functioning of the car using sensors and find the reasons, such as over speeding, in case of an accident.
"As there is not data recorder, the company has said that possibilities were less for getting the details," Crime Branch SP Shanavas said.
The accident involving an IAS officer had created a furore in the state.
The speeding car had knocked down Basheer's bike from behind. Basheer was thrown off the bike in the impact. Though he was rushed to the hospital, his life could not be saved. Sriram, who was then the Survey Director, was arrested.