The Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the case of the death of violinist Balabhaskar and his 18-month-old daughter in a car crash at Pallipuram in Kerala in September 2018, The Hindu reported on Thursday.
In a petition to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last year, Balabhaskar’s parents had alleged that the suspects in the case were linked to gold smuggling and suspicious transactions were carried out from the violinist’s bank accounts following his death. After this plea, the state government had decided to hand over the case over to the CBI in December 2019.
On September 25, 2018, the family – Balabhaskar, his wife Lekshmi and daughter Tejaswini Bala – was returning after offering prayers at a temple in Kerala’s Thrissur district, when their car hit a tree just outside the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram. Tejaswini Bala soon died of her injuries, while Balabhaskar and Lekshmi were taken to a hospital, where Lekshmi recovered.
But Balabhaskar suffered a cardiac arrest on the morning of October 2, and died on the same day. He had suffered massive injuries and had gone through a surgery after the accident.
Last year, Balabhaskar’s father Unni met Vijayan, and urged him to allow a CBI probe into the incident, PTI reported. “I feel the accident was engineered,” Unni had told the media in Thiruvananthapuram. He alleged there was a conspiracy behind his son’s death.
Prakash Thampy, a close aide of the violinist and an accused in gold smuggling, and driver Arjun, who was also injured, had claimed that Balabhaskar was at the wheel. But the police discovered that Arjun was driving the car instead. Balabhaskar’s father Unni had told Vijayan last year that the police did not investigate the incident from the conspiracy angle.
The Kerala Police said in court in November 2019 that the accident took place because Arjun nodded off at the wheel. The long night drive had fatigued the driver, the police claimed, and ruled out foul play.
The CBI told its special court in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday that the Balabhaskar’s parents were very skeptical about the police’s conclusions. The CBI said the musician’s parents wanted it to investigate whether the driver had any links to gold smuggling. They also want the agency to inquire into Balabhaskar’s financial dealings, to find out if any hostile individual had engineered the accident.
The CBI is likely to reconstruct the accident, and reexamine the fingerprints and serological evidence collected from the spot, unidentified officials told The Hindu. The investigation agency will also find out if the car was travelling above the speed limit and whether its occupants were wearing safety gear. The agency will interrogate those already questioned before and find new witnesses, if any.