VK Sasikala, the ousted AIADMK leader and close aide of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has been given special treatment in a prison in Bengaluru, a probe under the Right to Information Act revealed on Sunday. The 59-year-old politician is serving a four-year jail term after in connection with a disproportionate assets case but has managed to get many of the privileges she was not entitled to. Those VIP treatments include five rooms, a private cook and kitchen space, and an endless stream of visitors. The inquiry was ordered by then Siddaramaiah government in 2017.
The 295-page report confirmed then DIG (Prisons) D Roopa’s claims in July 2017 that Sasikala was given preferential treatment and a separate kitchen functioned for her at the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail, RTI activist Narasimha Murthy said. "I have accessed the 295 pages report through an RTI query. The report confirms that Sasikala was given special treatment in the jail," PTI quoted Murthy. The reply was furnished by M R Shobha, Public Relations Officer of the Home Department.
In a report submitted on July 12 to DGP (Prisons) H N Sathyanarayana Rao, Roopa had said there was “a talk” that Rs two crore had exchanged hands to give preferential treatment for Sasikala and there were allegations against him also, charge rejected by him. The issue had caused embarrassment to the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah which ordered the transfer of Roopa and Rao after both sparred in public.
Sasikala is lodged at Parappana Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru ever since her conviction by the Supreme Court in February 2017 in the disproportionate assets case along with her two relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi, all serving a 4-year jail term.
Kumar had submitted his report to the government on November 17, 2017, but its contents were not made public. The report, a copy of which is available with PTI, said Sasikala was allowed to wear her personal clothes and cook. A pressure cooker and spices were found in her prison cell.
It also added there was separate visitors’ room for her and the corridor in the jail was barricaded for her. Sasikala was provided five cells, despite no threat to her life as per intelligence reports, the report said.
The inquiry committee report said Sasikala enjoyed free movement within the prison which was corroborated by video clips. One of the videos showed Sasikala and co-convict Elavarasi going out of the female barrack with a bag in hand, it said. The videos were submitted to the commission by Roopa along with other CCTV footage from inside the prison.
The report also found that, as per the CCTV footage, Sasikala met with a person in a white shirt and white pants for over four hours on June 11, 2017. According to the prison register, the person is A Ashokan, her advocate. However, while it was mentioned in the register that she met with him for only 45 minutes the maximum time that a prisoner can spend with a visitor, the CCTV evidence that showed she met him for several hours.
The Daily Report (submitted by the chief superintendent of the prison for July 11, 2017) also showed that Elavarasi on that day had seven visitors, but the total time spent by her was recorded as 45 minutes from 2 pm.
“This can only be explained as deliberate misreporting on the part of the concerned prison officials to escape falling within the prohibition of Rule 601 of the Karnataka Prison Manual 1978. In other words, it is a case of falsification of records, the report noted. It also found two other similar manipulations of visitor timings.