It was at 9.30 p.m. on September 22, 2016, that then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa called out for help. According to her aide V.K. Sasikala, Jayalalithaa had indicated she was unwell while she was in the bathroom situated on the first floor of her Poes Garden residence, after having brushed her teeth.
In an affidavit filed before the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission , which is probing Jayalalithaa’s death, Sasikala provides an account of what transpired at Jayalalithaa’s residence before she was rushed to hospital. She says she helped the former Chief Minister to her bed, where she “fainted.”
Shortly afterwards, Dr. K.S. Sivakumar, a relative of Sasikala, entered the room. Two personal security officers and a driver were also called immediately.
According to sources privy to the 55-page, 99-paragraph affidavit filed on March 12, Dr. Sivakumar phoned Vijay Kumar Reddy, husband of Apollo Hospitals’ vice-chairperson Preetha Reddy. Two ambulances were despatched from Apollo’s Greames Road and Teynampet hospitals, which reached the residence in 10 or 15 minutes. The Apollo team brought an unconscious Jayalalithaa down from her bedroom on a stretcher. The police control room was informed and roads were cleared of traffic. Sasikala has declared that Jayalalithaa regained consciousness in the ambulance and asked where they were taking her. She was told they were en route to hospital.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Sivakumar had examined Jayalalithaa twice. Significantly, Sasikala claims she suggested a visit to the hospital on that very day, but Jayalalithaa refused to go.Her fever subsided later, the affidavit says.
Sasikala claims that Jayalalithaa’s health issues were mainly due to the stress caused by her conviction (and imprisonment) in the disproportionate assets case in September 2014.
The mental stress adversely affected her health, she says. Jayalalithaa had chosen to contest from the R.K. Nagar constituency in Chennai only because her mobility was affected greatly due to high levels of blood sugar, the affidavit states.
Jayalalithaa’s health deteriorated significantly in the first week of September 2016, partly because of fluctuating sugar levels, says Sasikala.
Two doctors, a diabetologist and a dermatologist, were consulted and they prescribed low dosage steroid tablets.
She recovered but had a fever starting September 19. She attended her last public event on September 21.
Sasikala has given the Commission a list of 20 doctors who had treated Jayalalithaa between November 2014 and September 2016. They work in different private hospitals in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata. A member of Sasikala’s legal team told The Hindu that they wanted these doctors to testify before the Commission.
Who saw the Chief Minister?
In a possible response to allegations that no one was allowed to meet Jayalalithaa during her long hospitalisation between September 22 and December 5, Sasikala says the former Tamil Nadu Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao met her on October 22, 2016. AIADMK leaders O. Panneerselvam and M. Thambi Durai and Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar saw her sometime during September 22-27, 2016.
“ Akka [elder sister] was being taken from the MDCCU [Multi-Disciplinary Critical Care Unit] on the second floor to the ground floor on a day before September 27 for being scanned. At that time, Jayalalithaa saw Veeraperumal and Perumalsamy, her Personal Security Officers and she told them, ‘I am fine now, do not worry. Doctor has asked me to stay for a few days. I can go home soon’.” The three AIADMK leaders mentioned above and other party functionaries saw her speak from a distance, says the affidavit.
“On October 22, 2016, Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao saw Akka through a glass partition. Akka saw the Governor and raised her hand. The Governor has described this interaction in his book Those Eventful Days . After this, the Governor met me too,” says Sasikala.
Sasikala claims that State Labour Minister Nilofer Kafeel and some other Ministers saw Jayalalithaa on November 19, 2016, when she was being moved to a private room.
When contacted, Sasikala’s counsel N. Raja Senthoor Pandian, said, “Multiple senior bureaucrats have deposed before the Commission that they met the then CM from September 22, 2016 to December 3, 2016 at Apollo Hospitals.” Various witnesses and evidence would prove that Jayalalithaa was conscious and interacted with multiple individuals during that period, he added.
Sasikala says she has made videos of Jayalalithaa with her permission, of which four have been submitted to the Commission.
The footage includes Jayalalithaa being treated in 2015 and 2016, before the Assembly election.
Sasikala says this was part of Jayalalithaa’s efforts to document her health. Four video clips shot at Apollo Hospitals have also been submitted to the Commission.
According to Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s room at Veda Nilayam contains a note proving she was lucid in November, 2016. In it, Jayalalithaa had instructed AIADMK’s parliamentarians on the party’s strategy for the winter session of Parliament.
Sasikala also provided a list of five officials, who attended a September 27, 2016, meeting on the Cauvery water sharing issue, and obtained instructions from Jayalalithaa directly. Then Chief Secretary P. Ramamohana Rao; Advocate General R. Muthukumarasamy, advisor to the government Sheela Balakrishnan; and CM’s secretaries A. Ramalingam and K.N. Venkataramanan attended it, says Sasikala’s affidavit.