Jayalalithaa's aide Sasikala released from prison after four years
VK Sasikala, the expelled AIADMK leader and close aide of Tamil Nadu's former Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, was on Wednesday released from a Bengaluru prison after spending four years behind bars. However, she will remain at Victoria Hospital, Bengaluru, as she is recuperating after testing positive for coronavirus. She was said to be stable in a health bulletin. Here's more.
Sasikala, VN Sudhakaran (Jayalalithaa's foster son), and J Ilavarasi (Sasikala's sister-in-law) were on February 14, 2017, sentenced to four years in prison by the Supreme Court, in connection to the Rs. 66 crore disproportionate assets case. The top court had restored the trial court's conviction—nearly 21 years after the FIR was registered. The SC levied a Rs. 10 crore fine each on the trio.
On January 20, Sasikala was taken to the Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital from the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison as she complained of fever. She was later taken to Victoria Hospital after contracting coronavirus. Ilavarasi, who shared a prison cell with Sasikala, also tested positive and was admitted to Victoria Hospital. The health facility said Sasikala was released at 11 am today.
Before her release, the hospital revealed that Sasikala is "conscious, alert, and well oriented." Although she is stable, she is walking with support. She is eating normally, is asymptomatic, and will be closely monitored, Victoria Hospital said. "The decision for her to continue treatment in Victoria Hospital has been taken by her and her family members," the health bulletin read.
Today, V Seshmurthy, Chief Superintendent of Parappana Agrahara Central Prison, along with his team visited Victoria Hospital for the formal release. He took Sasikala's signature, in presence of doctors, and handed her over the release letter. Sasikala expressed gratitude toward prison authorities and staff, reports Deccan Herald. Dr. Ramesh Krishna K, Medical Superintendent of Victoria Hospital, said she will remain admitted for four-five days.
Sasikala's supporters broke into celebrations today, just outside the hospital. They raised slogans, distributed sweets, and cheered for the 66-year-old, who was the closest confidante of Jayalalithaa. Her release comes just months before the Tamil Nadu polls. Along with her nephew, AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, Sasikala is expected to create a flutter in the southern state's politics. To recall, AIADMK expelled Sasikala in 2017.
Last week, CM Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was handpicked by Sasikala, ruled out the possibility of welcoming her back into the party. He categorically said there is no chance of her joining the party. Interestingly, Sasikala was released on the same day that Palaniswami inaugurated the Rs. 79 crore phoenix-shaped memorial of Jayalalithaa in Chennai. Thousands of party workers gathered at Marina Beach for the event.
As he addressed party workers, Palaniswami said they have to work hard to "win a third term as our tribute to Amma." To note, Sasikala had also visited Jayalalithaa's burial place in Marina beach and thumped her palm thrice, signaling three vows, before going to prison. Sasikala has been barred from contesting polls for 10 years but can emerge as a notable behind-the-scenes player.
Meanwhile, Sasikala, who once lived with Jayalalithaa, won't be able to enter the residence Veda Nilayam upon returning to the state capital. Palaniswami's government has taken over the property for a memorial dedicated to the late CM. The memorial will reportedly be inaugurated tomorrow, January 28. Faced with a house-hunting challenge, Sasikala might shift to the residence next to her niece J Krishnapriya's home.