Peter Karl Edward Craig Jones says he was under sustained pressure to sell the 906-acre tea estate in 1994.

Forced to sell Kodanadu estate to Jayalalithaa Former owner charges late CM with harassmentPTI
news Jayalalithaa Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 11:41

Five months after the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the former owner of the Kodanadu estate has now revealed that he was forced to sell the property during her first term as CM.

In an exclusive interview to The Week’s Lakshmi Subramanian, Peter Karl Edward Craig Jones charges the late CM, and her long-time aide and present AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala with harassment, saying his family was under immense pressure to sell the 906-acre estate. Hailing from London, Peter’s father William Jones had bought the property at Kodanadu in 1975 and in the early 1990s formed the Kodanadu Tea Estate Private Limited to process and market the tea produced in the estate.  

But trouble began brewing after Jayalalithaa took over as Chief Minister in 1991. They were informed that the CM had taken a liking towards the estate and wanted to purchase it from the Jones. Peter tells The Week that following two years of negotiations and five meetings with Jayalalithaa, the family was “forced to sell” the sprawling Kodanadu estate for a sum of Rs 7.6 crore in 1994.

“150 goondas came to our premises in cars. The number plates were covered. We were harassed. As my father was a friend of the then governor M Chenna Reddy, he phoned him. We were asked to file a police complaint. But, the policemen, after registering a case, persuaded us to give up everything and leave the estate,” reveals Peter.

He goes on to name Sasikala, the present Education Minister and AIADMK Presidium Chairman KA Sengottaiyan and his men as those who were in control of the business.  

Peter also goes on to accuse Sasikala of forcing him to hand over the Kodanadu Tea Estate Private Limited, the company he had set up, to her. Surprisingly though, he continues to be listed as a director of the now dormant company. “I am surprised I am still [listed as] a director. The partnership that owned Kodanadu was changed. We retired and benamis nominated by Sasikala were incorporated,” he says, while noting that he may continue to be the majority shareholder in the company.

Following Jayalalithaa’s demise and with Sasikala behind bars after being convicted in the Disproportionate Assets case, Peter now plans to take the legal route to reclaim the property he was forced to sell.

The Kodanadu estate found mention in the DA case by the Supreme Court. Located 12 km from Kotagiri in Nilgiris district, Kodanadu was Jayalalithaa’s favourite summer retreat, and the entire state administration was known to shift to the estate during the summers.

The property has been in the news now for several weeks following a break-in and murder of a security guard at the Kodanadu estate on April 24.

 

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