In what could cause a loss of face for the Karnataka government, photographs have been leaked to the media that purportedly show the cell in which AIADMK (Amma) General Secretary VK Sasikala is lodged.
TNM has accessed photos that few officers in Bengaluru Central jail claim is proof to show that the convict in the Jayalalithaa Disproportionate Assets case has been provided separate vessels, clothes, and even a cloth over her cell door to ensure privacy.
DIG Roopa, who was until Monday morning in the Prisons department, was transferred by the Karnataka government just days after she made allegations against prisons officials of taking a bribe from Sasikala.
According to sources, officer Roopa's second report to the DGP says that an entire corridor with five cells has been cordoned off for use by Sasikala and Ilaivarasi, and her âhelpersâ - other prison inmates assigned the job of caring for her.
The pictures show a well stocked shelf with stainless steel vessels, several clothes, a cushioned mat, and a mosquito net. While Sasikala herself is not seen in the pictures, sources claim that this in fact is her cell, and that the pictures were taken without the convictâs knowledge.
TNM cannot confirm if these pictures are indeed from Sasikalaâs cell or whether all the elements in the photographs are true or some have been photoshopped. Moreover, with IPS officers now being locked in a war of words, it is unclear whether there was any motive behind the leaks.
However, it is disturbing that a convict may be getting any special facilities at all.
There are chairs outside the cell, one of which has several bags on it.
There is also a white cotton cloth tied to the door of her cell, to ensure that she gets some privacy.
Based on inputs from released prisoners, Public TV, a Kannada channel, reported that while such treatment was given to âVIP prisonersâ, normal prisoners were housed in barracks of 30-35 convicts. These barracks are provided with four or five ceiling fans and a single water purifier for all the inmates, unlike the individual provisions made for inmates like Telgi, the channel reported.
DIG Roopaâs report had mentioned the special privileges given to stamp paper case convict Abdul Karim Telgi as well. âTelgi gets a body massage from three-four convicts allegedly allotted for his personal service,â DIG Roopaâs report said.
The channel had released a picture of a room which they claimed was Telgi's jail cell which shows an LED TV.
Ex-DG (Prisons) Satyanarayana Rao, though, had refused these claims.
âNo oneâs face is seen in the video. Besides, no special treatment is being given to anyone. Only the Supreme Court orders are being followed in Telgiâs case,â Satyanarayana said.
While DIG Roopa has said that she has taken videos of the special privileges given to VIP prisoners at the jail, a source with knowledge about the issue told TNM, âThe issue will blacken the names of many officials. What are the chances that the footage still exists? They would have obviously destroyed it. Without evidence, the investigation will conclude that there were no irregularities.â
Roopa in her report had said that there were rumours that senior officials - including her reporting officer, former DG (Prisons) Satyanarayana Rao, had taken bribes amounting to Rs 2 crore, for providing special privileges to the convict.
Roopaâs report was leaked to the media, and an angry Karnataka government transferred her to the Traffic and Road Safety department on Monday.
Meanwhile, Prajaa TV claimed to have accessed an exclusive video of Sasikala inside the Parappana Agrahara jail.
In the video, Sasikala can be seen in a nightie, and not in prison uniform as is mandatory. The video also shows a glimpse of her prison cell(s), in which her bed and other items can be seen. TNM cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
Watch it below.