Tamil Nadu police whisk away Shaji, accused of running over children sleeping on pavement

A day after the Kerala High Court rejected his anticipatory bail petition, hit-and run accused Shaji Purushothaman was detained by the immigration wing of the Cochin International Airport Limited and subsequently handed over to the Tamil Nadu police on Thursday morning. He was flown to Chennai in the evening.

The car, driven allegedly by the accused on the night of May 23 in a drunken state, ran over three children sleeping on the pavement at Egmore. A 13-year-old boy was killed and another child critically injured in the accident. He had gone absconding since then. The XIV Metropolitan magistrate’s court at Egmore in Chennai had declared Shaji a proclaimed offender at the instance of the Chennai Police on Wednesday.

Shaji, against whom a look-out circular had been issued at all airports across the country, was detained when he arrived at the airport from Hong Kong via Colombo at 9.30 a.m.

Apart from the circular, the Tamil Nadu police is learned to have tipped off the immigration officials the previous day about his arrival. Two circle inspectors from the traffic offence investigation wing of the Tamil Nadu Police have been camping here from last night.

Since the Tamil Nadu police officers were already present and were planning to take the accused by flight on the very same day, he wasn’t handed over to the local police station, which is usually the practice. The custody of Shaji was handed over to the Tamil Nadu police in the presence of two police officers from the Nedumbassery police station. Nedumbassery police said it was not clear whether his arrest was recorded at the airport itself. The usual practice for police making an arrest in an area outside their jurisdiction is to produce the suspect before a local magistrate court and obtain a transit warrant before transporting them. The procedure was avoided in this instance to avoid media attention in the high-profile arrest. Shaji will be produced before a Chennai court on Friday morning.

Airport sources said his documents were in order. He had no further plans to continue his travel from Kochi and seemed to have come prepared to surrender, an immigration official said.

Since it was a high-profile case that attracted considerable media attention, the Tamil Nadu police officers were determined about not exposing the accused to the local media. He was whisked away from the international terminal, where he was detained, to the domestic terminal through the airport airside rather than taking him through the normal exit and entry. The accused was flown to Chennai by a Jet Airways flight at 4.55 p.m.

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