What happened on September 22, 2016 – the day the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, was admitted to hospital? What led to her hospitalisation exactly, and what happened at the Apollo hospital in Chennai since then, until her death in December? These questions have been asked since the demise of Jayalalithaa – and finally, months after a probe was ordered into her death, her close aide VK Sasikala has filed an affidavit with the Justice Arumugasamy Commission.
TNM has accessed details of the contents of Sasikala’s affidavit, where the now-jailed aide of Jayalalithaa recounts what had happened. According to a source who has studied the affidavit submitted on March 13, it contains 99 paragraphs.
Sasikala says in the document that an unwell Jayalalithaa had dismissed the need to visit a hospital on September 22, 2016. Dr KS Sivakumar, who is a doctor and a relative of Sasikala, had already visited Jayalalithaa twice that day. Jayalalithaa had allegedly insisted that she will feel better with rest and it wasn't necessary to visit a hospital. They only managed to take her to Apollo Hospitals when she became unconscious.
The affidavit says that around 9.30 pm on September 22, the then CM had just brushed her teeth, when she complained of unease. She was unable to breathe freely and when she reached her bed, she fell unconscious.
However, once she was unconscious, The Hindu, which first broke the story, reports, Dr Sivakumar called Vijay Kumar Reddy, the husband of Apollo Hospitals' vice chairperson Preetha Reddy. Ambulances were dispatched and Jayalalithaa was rushed to the hospital.
The former CM reportedly gained consciousness in the ambulance and asked where they were taking her.
"On September 23, Jayalalithaa has told her doctor that Sasikala asked her to come to the hospital but she refused. She has said she was brought when unconscious," says the source to TNM. "Sasikala took all efforts to take her for treatment. But Jayalalithaa refused. She was taken to the hospital due to giddiness and she recovered from this. It was the subsequent heart problems that killed her," he adds.
The retired judge carrying out the probe is concerned about two aspects of the issue – the reason for hospitalisation and the subsequent treatment.
In the affidavit, the reason for hospitalisation is explained with a history of illnesses, the source says. The treatment given to Jayalalithaa, the affidavit says, was on the advice of doctors from Apollo as well as AIIMS.
According to Sasikala’s affidavit, Jayalalithaa's health had taken a turn for the worse after her imprisonment in the Disproportionate Assets case in 2014 for 22 days. Despite receiving bail, the case continued to be a source of constant stress for the then Chief Minister. Worrying about the case had a direct impact on her health, Sasikala says.
The source tells TNM that Sasikala has submitted a record of Jayalalithaa’s blood pressure and sugar levels from 2014. Even details of her food consumption were in it, and it has all been submitted to the Commission. On September 21, according to the source, Jayalalithaa had felt unwell while inaugurating a new corridor of the Chennai Metro Rail.
"She was put on the ventilator on September 27 because she couldn't breathe, and on the next day it was doctors from AIIMS who advised that a tracheostomy be done. In addition to this, there are videos from the hospital that she allowed Sasikala to shoot," says the source.
Amidst accusations by members of the ruling AIADMK including Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam that no one was allowed to meet Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, the source says, "During her stay at the hospital she has had a meeting with five top bureaucrats – Rama Mohan Rao, Sheela Balakrishnan, Venkataraman, Ramalingam and Muthukumaraswamy were there. They had a meeting on Cauvery and madam herself has dictated and made correction in facts. These are all government officials who saw her in the hospital. Despite this, accusations are being made against Sasikala due to political vendetta."
The details of the affidavit match the statement given by the former Chief Minister's driver. He had told the media that Jayalalithaa had asked the car to be taken to her residence instead of her chambers at the Secretariat following the metro inauguration on September 21.
“I started working for her in 1991 and I know well the facts. Chinnamma (Sasikala) took care of her well till the last minute. Even my relatives used to ask me why I was continuing in the job. Chinnamma was loyal and truthful. Truth will triumph one day,” the driver had told the media.