Investigation by The Hindu throws up more questions

Last week’s car accident in Egmore that claimed a boy’s life is beset with questions.

Two of them have come into sharper focus. One: where is Shaji Purushothaman — the 38-year-old scion of the EMPEE Group and a relative of Union Minister Vayalar Ravi — who has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and is the main accused in the case? Four days after the accident, which resulted in the death of 13-year-old Muniraj, the police remain in the dark about Shaji’s whereabouts.

And the other question: is Kumar (43), who has been arrested for the offence, really Shaji’s driver?

Investigation by The Hindu revealed that he was never employed as a driver by the Purushothaman family, which runs the EMPEE Group. Instead, he takes care of the family’s horses at Naidupet in Nellore –– something that earned him the moniker ‘Kudirai’ Kumar — and periodically visited the city to take money from the Purushothamans for the upkeep of these animals.

Not only that, even the address Kumar gave the police turned out to be false. He does not live at 9/2, Tirupur Kumaran Street, Vyasarpadi. “I have been coming here for the last three days, hoping to meet Kumar’s family. We are now certain Kumar and his family do not live here,” said a traffic police officer.

Pazhani, the owner of the house, was stumped when the police knocked on his door. “We are staying here for six decades, and we have never had a tenant by the name of Kumar,” said Pazhani.

Inquiries at other houses on the street with addresses containing ‘number 9’ in varied forms have also yielded unsatisfactory results. “Policemen keep returning to the lane, asking the same question: Does Kumar live here?” said a lady who lives at New Number 9.

During inquiries at the Egmore office of the EMPEE Group, some employees claimed that Shaji would insist on driving the car himself once he downs one drink too many. “He is a sharp driver. He used to come to the corporate office [on Harris Road] late at night with his friends and drive away. All of them would be drunk,” said one of them. There is one more question that is being asked: why was Kumar named the main accused initially and later made accused no. 2?

As these questions harry local investigators, Kerala State Police chief K.S. Balasubramanian on Monday told The Hindu that his force would extend all support in tracing the accused. The Purushothamans hail from Kerala. Meanwhile, the city police said it will seek the custody of Kumar, now in Puzhal prison on judicial remand, and also the support of their counterparts in other States to trace Shaji.