Chennai: J Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016 after being admitted to a top Chennai hospital should be investigated, according to a former judge in a lengthy report that criticizes at least one top government official and VK Sasikala, the politician’s close aide who lived with her.
A commission of inquiry was established in 2017 when Ms Jayalalithaa’s party, the AIADMK, governed Tamil Nadu, to sift through conspiracy theories, conflicting accounts of Ms Jayalalithaa’s illness and treatment at Apollo Hospital, and legal claims.
The government presented the report to the Tamil Nadu assembly today. It claims that Ms Jayalalithaa’s top bureaucrat at the time of her death, Chief Secretary Dr Rama Mohana Rao, committed criminal acts. The report also criticizes then-Health Minister Vijaya Baskar and claims Apollo Chairman Dr Pratap Reddy made false statements about Ms Jayalalithaa’s health.
Ms Jayalalithaa, one of Tamil Nadu’s most charismatic and powerful politicians, served as Chief Minister for four terms. She was well-known as Tamil Nadu’s “Amma” for AIADMK cadre, but allegations of corruption dogged her in the latter half of her career.
VK Sasikala, her closest aide, lived with her for decades. Sasikala was arrested on corruption charges in 2017 after Jayalalithaa died as a result of her conviction in the disproportionate assets case, in which she was the prime accused. Four years later, Sasikala was released from prison in neighboring Karnataka, and her attempt to take over the AIADMK was foiled.
AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam testified for the committee, as did Ms Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa and nephew Deepak, who said the politician died in mysterious circumstances, and Sasikala, who filed a written statement. Doctors from Apollo Hospital testified about the treatment they received via video conference with specialists from Delhi’s AIIMS, who were summoned by the Supreme Court.