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The Hindu
The Hindu
T.K. Rohit

I have respect for Sasikala and no doubts about Jayalalithaa’s death: OPS

AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam, who in February 2017 rebelled against V.K. Sasikala and sought a judicial probe into the death of Jayalalithaa, said on Tuesday that he respected Ms. Sasikala and did not have any suspicion about the death of the former Chief Minister.

He claimed he was only “reflecting the doubts prevailing in the minds of people” when he asked for a commission to probe the circumstances that led to the death of Jayalalithaa.

Continuing his deposition for the second day before the Justice (retired) Arumughaswamy Commission, Mr. Panneerselvam said he still had respect for V.K. Sasikala, a confidante of Jayalalithaa.  Referring to her as ‘Chinnamma’, Mr. Panneerselvam told the commission that Ms. Sasikala or her family members, against whom he had revolted days after resigning as Chief Minister and proposing her as leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party in 2017, did not hatch any conspiracy against Jayalalithaa.

The AIADMK coordinator said he was satisfied with the treatment provided by Apollo Hospitals to Jayalalithaa, though he was not aware of which doctors [treated her] and what treatment was given nor about her ailments.

During the cross-examination, N. Raja Senthoor Pandian, counsel for Ms. Sasikala, posed a pointed question to Mr. Panneerselvam: “Personally, do you have any doubts about Jayalalithaa’s death?” In response, the former Chief Minister said, “I personally do not have any doubts about her death. There were doubts in people’s minds that were growing stronger and I merely voiced them.”

When Mr. Pandian asked whether it was right that Mr. Panneerselvam had said in a television interview that he had sought a commission of inquiry so that doubts about Ms. Sasikala could be clarified, he replied in the affirmative.

Asked whether the deposition of Jayalalithaa’s doctors that she had been suffering from mental stress due to the cases foisted on her by the DMK government was right, Mr. Panneerselvam said it was true.

Mr. Pandian also asked whether the act of taking away the national flag from Jayalalithaa’s car after the verdict of the special court in Bengaluru had affected her, Mr. Panneerselvam said, “There was a gap of one hour from the conclusion of the hearing at noon and the pronouncement of judgment at 1 p.m. When the judgment was pronounced, one female constable held Amma’s [Jayalalithaa’s] hand and dragged her. It was shocking and stressful even for all of us that such an ‘inhumane’ act was done to her,” he said.

During the cross-examination by Maimoona Badsha, counsel for Apollo Hospitals, Mr. Panneerselvam said he was satisfied with the treatment given by the doctors to Jayalalithaa.

Earlier, Mr. Panneerselvam said he was not aware of the then Governor, Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, flying down from Mumbai, visiting Apollo Hospitals and meeting its chairman and leaving without seeing Jayalalithaa while she was on ECMO ventilator support. 

“Around 10 p.m.-10.30 p.m. [on December 5, 2016], three senior Ministers (including me) were called to see Amma as she was about to be taken off ECMO ventilator support. We were told that almost everything was over,” he submitted.

Addressing the media following his deposition, Mr. Panneerselvam said he had answered all questions honestly. “When Amma was at the hospital, only half-an-hour before she was taken off ECMO ventilator support, we went and saw her. Before that, I did not see her for 74 days,” he said.

Now, all the commission’s witnesses have given their deposition. The commission will take a call on completing its proceedings next Wednesday, depending on whether counsel for Apollo Hospitals and Ms. Sasikala want to examine any other witness on their side.

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