The commission probing the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has recommended an investigation into the roles of VK Sasikala, a close confidante of the leader, KS Shivakumar, Sasikala's nephew, C Vijayabaskar, former Tamil Nadu health minister, and Dr Radhakrishnan, former health secretary.
The 450-page report of the retired judge A Arumughaswamy was tabled in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Tuesday, 18 October. The commission was set up five years ago, in 2017, to look into the conspiracy theories and conflicting accounts surrounding Jayalalithaa's illness, months-long treatment at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, and eventual demise.
The report has highlighted some of the most important unanswered questions such as:
Who decided to switch off the CCTV cameras at Apollo Hospital when Jayalalithaa was being treated?
Was Jayalalithaa brought to the hospital in an unconscious state?
Was the time of death announced accurately?
What was Sasikala's and a few doctors’ intention behind allegedly stopping Jayalalithaa from getting an angiography?
Arumughaswamy report also noted discrepancies in the versions narrated by Sasikala and the doctors who treated her. The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had promised in its election manifesto that the party's government will “bring out the truth” about Jayalalithaa’s death.
'Jayalalithaa Was Brought Unconscious to the Hospital'
Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals on 22 September 2016, with fever and dehydration. The hospital noted that she was “stable and under observation” and was conscious. In a press conference on 24 September, the hospital said that she will be discharged in a few days and will soon resume her normal duties.
The commission has elaborately studied the circumstances surrounding the health condition of the late CM, and has noted that she was suffering from uncontrollable diabetes, fluctuating blood pressure, thyroid, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, and bronchitis.
According to the commission, on 22 September at around 4 pm, Jayalalithaa's health condition was quite poor and she was being treated by doctors at her house. When she fainted, she was administered oxygen at home and then rushed to the hospital. The statement from the treating doctor at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai showed that she did not regain consciousness.
According to the commission, “it is crystal clear that when she was hospitalised, she was unconscious.”
Shortly after hospitalisation, it was diagnosed that Jayalalithaa had developed “sepsis” on account of a urinary infection. Subsequently, the doctors diagnosed that she also had deteriorating heart conditions.
The Missing ECG
Jayalalithaa was treated for 75 days at the Apollo Hospital.
While the hospital authorities declared her dead on 5 December at 11.30 pm, evidence has shown that she got a cardiac arrest on 4 December and passed away at between 3 and 3.50 pm, the report stated.
The report corroborated this observation with the testimonies of doctors who had treated the leader on the last day.
On the morning of 4 December, Jayalalithaa had consumed cornflakes at around 11.30 am. A short while later, at 2 pm, a weeping sound was heard from the room, following which doctors and Sasikala rushed in. According to a doctor, Dr Rama Devi, who was present in the room at the time, Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest. “Heart alone vibrated but blood didn't circulate,” the report quoted her saying.
Even though the doctors had claimed that her health was improving, testimonies showed that that wasn't true.
At 3.50 pm on the same day, another doctor, Dr Nalini, claimed to have taken an “emergency" echo. "When she took echo she noted that her (Jayalalithaa's) heart had stopped functioning and the late CM was being given a massage. She stated that the echo taken by her on 4 December is not in the file and if that echo is examined the heart's final movements would be seen,” the report read.
'Sasikala Issued Fake Statements on Health Status'
In it's report, the commission has at length analysed Sasikala's association with Jayalalithaa.
In 2011, Sasikala was openly accused of betraying Jayalalithaa's trust. Jayalalithaa had also asked leaders and AIADMK cadre not to have association with her. “The bonhomie between the two vanished and spite and ill will took its place. This demonstrates clearly the total estrangement between the duo. At times, facts are stronger than fiction,” read the report.
The report assessed evidence to state that “though seemingly normalcy had been restored between the two (later, in 2012), still it was as though perfect bonhomie was not restored between the two, as it existed before the cleavage occurred. There was simmering discontent in the mind of Sasikala.”
The commission has alleged that Sasikala issued fake statements on Jayalalithaa's health status.
The commission has also submitted that Dr Richard Beale of United Kingdom (UK) had recommended that Jayalalithaa be taken abroad for treatment, but Sasikala allegedly blocked it.
The commission, however, did conclude that there was nothing “abnormal or unnatural in the conduct of the people including Sasikala in the house in taking adequate care to shift late CM to the Apollo hospital promptly without delay.”
“The whole line of treatment was shrouded in secrecy and there was lack of transparency, as much as there was no authentic and reliable disclosure of facts pertaining to her exact health condition and the course of treatment.”Report by Arumughaswamy Commission