A week after State Environment Minister N. Mariyam Pichai died in a road accident after his car rammed a lorry from behind on the Tiruchi-Chennai national highway near Padalur in Perambalur, the Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) has tracked down the missing truck and its driver.
The vehicle was detained at Kharagpur with the assistance of the West Bengal police. A CB-CID team will leave for Kolkata to bring back the vehicle. The lorry driver, Rahamathullah, who was traced to Vijayawada with the help of the Andhra Pradesh CID on Monday, is being brought to Chennai.
A massive hunt was launched by the CB-CID after it took up investigation into the case on the orders of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to trace the missing vehicle and its driver.
Details were collected through different check posts and verified. Vehicles which had gone to other States such as Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry were inspected with the assistance of the respective State CID police.
800 vehicles checked
The intensive inter-State physical verification of nearly 800 vehicles lasting nearly five days yielded results for the CB-CID, which found that the lorry bearing an Andhra Pradesh registration number (AP 16 TB 9744) was the other vehicle involved in the accident, a CB-CID release said.
Mariyam Pichai was on his way to Chennai from Tiruchi to take oath as a legislator at the State Assembly in Fort St. George on May 23 when the accident took place.
The Minister's personal security officer, Head Constable Maheswaran of Security Branch and four AIADMK party functionaries – C Karthikeyan, T Saravanan, R Venkatesan and R Srinivasan – were also in the car, which was driven by V. Anandan, a tourist cab driver from Chennai. The lorry driver fled from the scene with the vehicle.
The CB-CID was entrusted with the investigation. Twelve teams, each headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, were constituted to probe the case.
Meanwhile, five witnesses, four of whom were the AIADMK party functionaries who travelled in the car involved in the accident, were brought to the Judicial Magistrate court at Ariyalur. The fifth witness was A. Ravichandran of Thiruvalakurichi in Perambalur district.
Their statements were recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code by Judicial Magistrate R. Rajkumar in his chamber in in-camera proceedings, police sources said.