After a day of high drama in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case on Tuesday, surrendered at a special court, a few hundred metres from Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, and became prisoner no. 9234.
Before leaving for Bengaluru by road on Wednesday, Ms. Sasikala stopped by at the memorial to Jayalalithaa on the Marina in Chennai and dramatically slapped the memorial’s slab thrice as if taking a vow. After this, she headed out to former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s house in Ramavaram and paid floral tributes to his portrait and his statue. She also spent a few minutes sitting on the floor of the house in front of the portrait.
Earlier in the day, after the Supreme Court turned down her petition to give her two weeks’ time to surrender, Ms. Sasikala called in priests to Jayalalithaa’s Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, and performed special pujas. After these rituals, family members reportedly entered the house, followed by former Ministers and a few sitting MPs to meet her.
Outside the residence, AIADMK supporters raised slogans against Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao, claiming they were irked by the delay in inviting the leader of the AIADMK’s legislature party Edappadi Palaniswami to form the government. They also raised slogans against Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, as they have been doing frequently this past week, interspersed with cries of “Chinnamma” referring to Ms. Sasikala.
Around 11.45 a.m., the iron gates of Veda Nilayam were thrown open, and a car drove out with Ms. Sasikala and her relative J. Elavarasi, also convicted in the disproportionate assets case.
From Veda Nilayam, she proceeded straight to the memorial of Jayalalithaa and then to Ramavaram.
Her estranged nephew V.N. Sudhakaran left from his home in Valasaravakkam and travelled separately to Bengaluru.
Finally, at 5.13 p.m., minutes before the court administrative hours came to a close, Ms. Sasikala reached Parappana Agrahara Road in Bengaluru.
Soon after Ms. Sasikala’s convoy neared the prison premises, a clash broke out between mediapersons and the group that came with her convoy.
In the morning, Justice P.C. Ghose told her lawyer: “We will not change a word of that order. We do not intend to pass any further orders after directing her to surrender immediately… Hope you understand the meaning of the word ‘immediately’?”
The police initially allowed six cars to enter the road leading to the Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, which was barricaded at a distance of 50 feet from the entrance. As they closed access to the entrance, two more cars awaited their turn to be allowed inside.
It was only then that the police realised that Ms. Sasikala was seated in the front seat of the eighth car, along with co-convivt Ms. Elavarasi.
The AIADMK general secretary, dressed in a red sari, looked visibly tired, and did not even acknowledge the slogans of “Chinnamma” from party supporters as her car made way inside.
What followed was a clash between media persons and the group that came with the convoy.
Some miscreants, seizing the opportunity, started wrecking property outside.
An unidentified man jumped atop a white SUV, which was part of the convoy that tailed Ms. Sasikala’s vehicle, and smashed the window pane with his foot.
By the time the police lathi-charged protesters to maintain law and order, two vehicles had been damaged.
Escorted by police
Once inside, Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi were taken to the prison building escorted by a team of police. “Sasikala was smiling and talking to Elavarasi and did not show any sign of disappointment when police handed her over to prison authorities,” prison officials said. The third convict, Mr. Sudhakaran, followed them a little later at 6.37 p.m. The prison department officials said Ms. Ilavarasi was allotted prisoner no. 9235 and Mr. Sudhakaran 9236.
Ms. Sasikala had reportedly requested the court to be allowed home-made food as she suffers from diabetes and other ailments, but the court directed her to submit the medical reports along with the requisition to the prison department.
According to prison sources, Ms. Sasikala’s breakfast will be chapati, sambar, and curd; lunch will be ragi/rice or chapati as per her choice.
Her request for a special room for prayers was rejected, said a source at Central Prison. She had also reportedly asked for A class facilities and a room for yoga, and private bathroom, which prison officials said were under the discretion of the court.
As soon as she entered the cell, the prison staff asked her to deposit her valuables at the counter and recorded her history in the prison book as per procedure. Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi were later taken to the hospital inside the prison for a general check-up.
According to a senior police official, Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi would be made to stay in the general women’s cell as there is no special provision for them. However, considering her background, a team of women prison staff have been deputed at the prison cell to monitor any eventualities. They were given a plate, a tumbler, and blanket and a list of jobs they would be interested in. They will have to work to earn their livelihood inside the prison during their stay, and they can collect their earnings after their release, officials added.