Manoj Pandian appears before Jaya probe panel

Manoj Pandian  

Former Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Pandian, who on Wednesday became the first AIADMK leader to depose before the Commission of Inquiry looking into the death of Jayalalithaa, repeated his suspicions about the circumstances surrounding the former Chief Minister’s hospitalisation and death.

He was summoned because of his claims, made at a joint press conference with his father and former Assembly Speaker P.H. Pandian in February 2017, alleging foul play in Jayalalithaa’s death. He has been asked to return to continue his deposition in the second week of March.

Mr. Pandian, who was accompanied by a group of supporters, spent about four-and-a-half hours deposing before Justice A. Arumughaswamy.

Among other things, he elaborated on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, his interactions with her and how he was with her after Sasikala was expelled from Poes Garden in 2011.

Mr. Pandian also found fault with T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s statement, given to a news channel on March 13, 2017. Mr. Pandian said that Mr. Dhinakaran had claimed that Jayalalithaa did not want to be photographed. “How did this CD [videos submitted by Mr. Dhinakaran to the Commission] come about? I have requested that the Commission investigate. When Amma said that she did not want to be photographed, how did this happen?”

He also said that Mr. Dhinakaran had said in the same interview that he had seen Jayalalithaa at Apollo Hospitals, and she had waved at him when he wished her. Mr. Pandian said that he had submitted a copy of the interview to the Commission.

‘Doctors should depose’

He also said that the Deputy Superintendent of Police, who called Apollo Hospitals from Veda Nilayam on the night of September 22, should be identified and examined by the Commission. Mr. Pandian also said that the doctors who were in the ambulance that ferried Jayalalithaa to the hospital should also depose.

Mr. Pandian, who said that he had started speaking out against Sasikala after being denied permission to see Jayalalithaa at the hospital, said that a team of government doctors that had been formed to oversee her treatment had never met Jayalalithaa. He also asked why the government never issued a bulletin about the then-Chief Minister’s health and why commandos of the National Security Guard were not on the third floor of the hospital, where Jayalalithaa stayed and where — according to the AIADMK leader — Ms. Sasikala’s relatives had access.

He also spoke of the night Jayalalithaa died. “We [some AIADMK leaders] were asked to go to the Rajaji Bhavan the next morning. We said that we wanted to meet Amma and waited in a room. We left only after viewing her body at 2.30 a.m.,” he said.

New list

The Arumughaswamy Commission has compiled a list of 21 people who still work at Veda Nilayam. Till now, the Commission has been operating with a list of 31 names supplied by Jayalalithaa’s personal assistant S. Poongundran. A source said that the Commission was forced to compile the new list after multiple individuals in Mr. Poongundran’s list did not respond to attempts to contact them for the purposes of issuing summons.

The new list of 21 names, unlike the list of 31, is being treated as an unofficial list as the Commission had to compile it itself using various sources. Mr. Poongundran had mentioned that eight on his list — of those who worked at Jayalalithaa's residence in 2016 — were no longer working at Veda Nilayam. The new list has the names of three to four individuals who were not on Mr. Poongundran’s list.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 8:51:50 AM |

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