The controversy over the break-in at former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's Kodanad estate in 2017 has come into the limelight once again following an investigative report by former Tehelka editor Samuel Mathew. A 16-minute video released by the senior journalist in Delhi on Friday, claimed that the break-in and subsequent deaths of those involved in the crime, was linked to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami. Based on interviews with men involved in the break-in, the journalist alleged that the crime was ordered by the Chief Minister to retrieve important documents from the estate. However, all the testimonies of the men are based on conversations that they reportedly had with Kanakaraj, Jayalalithaa's driver who died in an accident. He was an accused in the break-in case, and his death later had been questioned as mysterious by many. Whether Kanakaraj really had these conversations with them cannot be cross ascertained, as he is no more.
The Chief Minister however has not only denied the allegations but has also given a complaint to the Chennai police against the journalist. He further alleges that the report is politically motivated.
"The report is not true. There is no truth in it. The people who put it out and those behind them will face severe action. I have filed a complaint with the police and they have taken it up," says the Chief Minister. "Ten people have been arrested in connection to the case and they have appeared in court 22 times. They never said all this before and this is merely an effort to divert the case," he adds.
Palaniswami maintains that Jayalalithaa did not have documents in connection to party members at the estate and that a report claiming so was an insult to her.
The video begins by describing the tense situation that prevailed at the estate on April 23, 2017 following the murder of a security guard named Om Bahadhur who protected the former CM's 'favourite retreat'. After reports of the break in, police claimed that only watches and a crystal paper weight was missing. But the journalist says this claim is questionable. He then moves on to the circumstances which the led to the death of Kanakaraj (who formerly worked as a driver in Poes Garden) and the alleged suicide of Dinesh, a CCTV operator at the estate. Interviews have been conducted with members of the gang alleged to have been part of the break. This includes accused no.2 Sayan and accused no.3 'Walayar' Manoj. Dinesh's father too pitches in to state that his son's death remains a mystery to the family.
Both the accused claimed that they made away with the documents, pen drive and hard discs which contained important information in connection to the party and the government.
According to the report, security was weakened in advance on the day of the break in and CCTVs were disabled across the 900 acres property. The accused repeatedly say throughout the video the the CM had put Kanakaraj on the task, however there is no further evidence to prove the same.
Opposition asks CM to step down
The DMK has meanwhile demanded that the Chief Minister step down till investigation into the break-in is complete.
A statement issued by party President MK Stalin reads, "I called them a criminal cabinet earlier due to allegations of corruption. Now there are allegation of murder and robbery. Edappadi Palaniswami should step down immediately. All the perpetrators should be punished by law."
The DMK further questions the death of the security personnel and the former driver, citing Sayan's interview on the robbery.