A tiff broke out on Monday between journalists and the lawyers in the district court premises of Thiruvananthapuram after a press photographer took pictures of an accused in a case.
The case pertains to IAS officer Sreeram Venkitaraman and his friend Wafa Firoz. Venkitaraman is an accused in a case of driving a car under the alleged influence of alcohol and killing K.M. Basheer, a journalist in a road accident that took place in the state capital two years ago.
Venkitaraman, who was suspended after the incident, has since been reinstated. The trial of the case had been postponed earlier after the two accused failed to turn up in the court. On Monday, the two appeared before the court as the case was listed.
Sivaji, the press photographer of Siraj daily in which Basheer worked, was present in the premises when the two accused came.
"I first took pictures of Venkitaraman when he was returning after appearing in court. Then when she (Wafa) came out, I took her picture also. Suddenly one person (a police official) asked me how I took her picture without her permission and asked for my credentials. Soon a group of lawyers got around me and I was forced to delete the picture and the mobile phone was given to the police. I was heckled by the group of people," said Sivaji.
Hearing the news of the commotion, the district president of Kerala Union of Working Journalists Suresh Vellimanagalam arrived at the scene and he too was heckled.
"We did not want to create a scene by being in the premises, so we decided to approach the police and when we reached the station, we were surprised that they were not willing to register a case. But we wanted the case to be registered," said Suresh.
Journalists vs lawyers row
A few years back a tiff between the media and the lawyers here took place, which later steamrolled into a big issue with even the Kerala High Court intervening. Since then things had cooled down, only to resurface again on Monday.
Following the issue surfacing in the media, the police on Monday registered a case and a complaint has also been made by the lawyers. "The media is totally innocent and there was no provocation at all. We are now waiting to see how the case is going to go forward. We will not lie low as we have done no wrong," said E.S. Subash, state secretary of KUWJ.
The accident occurred on August 3, 2019 in Thiruvananthapuram when returning from a late-night party, an allegedly drunk Venkitaraman knocked Basheer down. Venkitaraman was accompanied by a woman friend Waha Firoz to whom the car belonged.
He was suspended from service after two days. Though he was arrested and sent to jail, taking into account his health condition he was sent to the State-run Medical College hospital's prison cell and later got bail.
The charge sheet filed at the Thiruvananthapuram chief judicial first class magistrate court says he was drunk and was at the wheels at the time of the accident. He was named as the first accused and Wafa Firoz is the second accused in the case.
(With inputs from IANS)