A year ago Dr. Sriram Venkitaraman was a hero for us Malayalis. An IAS topper from the Kerala Cadre who, like some of his other much-respected IAS seniors and peers in Kerala, took on the land mafia, corrupt officials and politicians and refused to bow down to highly degrading remarks and threats of physical harm from none other than an MLA of the ruling party and his blind followers, a transfer from his post for doing his job with unrelenting courage and his refusal to apologize for being on the side of honesty and integrity – that is what made us worship this officer and put him on a pedestal alongside other bravehearts from his league.
A year of sabbatical at Harvard for higher studies and back to service only recently, the last thing we imagined he would make the headlines for was drunken driving and manslaughter! Coming from a model officer who inspired so many, it is nothing but a disgraceful fall, especially with him lying that it was his friend who was driving at the time of the accident which killed a senior journalist. It is painful to think that a man of 35 lost his life only due to someone else’s negligence. It is also painful to think of how a promising young officer who could make a huge difference with his continued fight against corruption threw all that away in such a deplorable manner. I hope justice prevails as he once strived for and he receives the punishment for what he has done, not only for the accident which was his making, but also for shattering the trust of so many who looked up to him. Quite honestly, there is still a part of me which hopes that it would be proven that he wasn’t the one driving.
It is equally disgusting to see how media is more concerned about “the NRI wife and model who was with him in his car at 1 in the morning” – their implications so sly and in no way subtle. Even in the midst of this tragedy, it is sensationalizing the news with the pathetic moral policing that would pander to our people that they are more interested in. And we are sure to see political clowns like the once-MLA and now Minister and many others like him happily using this incident as a tool against any honest officer who dares to stand up against them. Oh Sriram! How you have ruined it for everyone! ☹