On Easter, Rajya Sabha MP Jose K Mani’s son K M Mani’s rash driving left two dead near Kottayam. A few Kerala police officers are accused of twisting all the rules to save Junior Mani, as he is called. They now face severe allegations from locals who witnessed the accident. Had the locals not retaliated, the accused would have escaped, and someone else would have replaced the local leader’s son.
The Mani family runs their brand of dynasty politics from Pala in Kottayam. Started by K M Mani in 1979 after splitting from Kerala Congress, the political outfit is called Kerala Congress (Mani), KC(M), or Mani Congress. Incidentally, his grandson Jr. Mani, too, is named K M Mani. They have small pockets of Christian votes in three districts, five MLAs, 1 MP in Lok Sabha (Kottayam), and another disproportionate representation in the Rajya Sabha handled by Jose K Mani himself.
Having stayed a blatant capitalist and faced several corruption charges, Sr. Mani died in 2019. Jose understood that the party’s influence had ended and joined the communist regime. While Mani remained a Congress ally all his life, Jose joined the same communists who had publicly insulted his father even inside the assembly.
Around 6.30 pm on Saturday, 19-year-old Jr. Mani was driving alone from his sister’s place near Manimala to his residence in Pala when the accident occurred. Mani was overspeeding when he hit the brakes, and his luxury MUV spun thrice on the road. The snaking narrow road is tarred but does not have dividers, and Mani was moving downhill.
Mani’s car crashed into two young brothers riding a two-wheeler from the opposite direction. Victims Jins John (30) and Jiss John (35) were on their way home carrying some groceries for their Easter celebrations. An eyewitness said the impact broke all the bones of both victims. They were motionless but were declared dead only later that night, ie. Sunday/Easter morning.
Though the impact crushed the two-wheeler and threw the riders far away, Mani escaped unhurt. Jr. jumped out and placated angry locals. Meanwhile, his relative, Xavier Mathew (vehicle owner), arrived. Mathew is married to MP Jose’s sister. Local police, too, reached and shifted the victims to the hospital.
Jr. Mani was booked under bailable sections and went home. The original police FIR showed a 45-year-old unnamed person as accused. As mentioned, Mani, an MBA student in Bangalore, is only 19.
Local newspapers mentioned the accident but skipped mentioning the Mani part. Kerala media even spread fake news that the victims were guilty since they rammed into Mani’s MUV from behind. They failed to mention that Mani’s vehicle rotated several times in the middle of the road or that the two-wheeler came from the opposite side.
Allegedly, neither did Kerala police check whether Mani was drunk, nor did they test his blood for narcotics. These medical tests are standard operating procedures all over Bharat. All these raised even more suspicions.
On Sunday, a controversy brewed. Locals questioned how Mani’s name was omitted from the FIR and replaced with a 45-year-old. Some pointed out this happened even though the police team reached the spot after the accident. This was when some police officers allegedly tampered with the FIR.
Eventually, protests led to Mani appearing before the police on Sunday. Kerala police did a U-turn, arrested Mani, and charged him with rash and negligent driving that resulted in the fatal accident. Even then, police did not conduct a medical examination and released Mani on bail again. Residents have alleged that their MP was trying to protect his son from the case.
Meanwhile, Kottayam Superintendent of Police K Karthik said a proper probe is happening. “The Station Inspector (SHO) was on G20 duty in Kumarakom and was relieved of that duty only by 9.30 pm on Sunday. He has been directed to take over the probe in the case from Monday,” said the SP. Experts opined it was hard to believe that local police filed an FIR without the SHO’s knowledge.
“The accident happened late Saturday night. After the accident, the police personnel was busy with the inquest and autopsy. The person who committed the accident, the vehicle, etc., was here only. They were not absconding or escaping. The next morning, they had to finish the inquest and post-mortem and hand the body to the relatives. Then they started the investigation and learned about the driver’s identity, and arrest was recorded,” the SP added.