Bengaluru: VK Sasikala, who is serving her four-year sentence in a corruption case at a jail in Bengaluru, is receiving VVIP treatment, an RTI activist has claimed. Ms Sasikala had been denied a number of privileges she had asked for, including home food, cot, mattress, table fan and attached bathroom. But now, the leader of AIADMK is meeting a number of people who are coming to visit her in jail. The rules allow only two visitors a month – which includes advocates, friends and family. Moreover, while visitors are allowed to meet prisoners only between 11 am to 5 pm, some of Ms Sasikala’s visitors met her even after 5 pm.
The activist, Narsimha Murthy, has claimed that in 31 days, 19 visitors have met Ms Sasikala — the total number of visits is 14. Apart from her advocates, the list named senior AIADMK leaders – including Deputy Speaker Thambidorai and her nephew TTV Dinakaran, who is also the candidate for the coming by-election in Chennai’s RK Nagar constituency. Mr Dinakaran, in fact, met her twice.
The visits came as the party was locked in a tussle with Mr O Panneerselvam’s faction for the party’s two-leaf election symbol, which was eventually frozen by the Election Commission. While a convicted prisoner is not allowed to contest elections or hold elected office, there is no rule stopping them from heading party. Ms Sasikala, who was chosen to lead AIADMK days before she was jailed, is seen as controlling the party through her nephew Mr Dinakaran.
In response to Mr Narsimha Murthy’s RTI query, the jail department’s response said convict prisoners are eligible for interviews once a week. The Director General of Prisons HN Satyanarayana Rao, however, said the rule about visitors is not ironclad – the jailor is allowed to use his discretion.
On February 15, after she walked into the Parappana Agrahara Central Jail, Ms Sasikala had asked for a special cell citing health problems. The Class 1 cells that she requested for come with a private television, home-cooked food and non-vegetarian meals twice a week. But her request had been turned down by the court.
In February, Ms Sasikala’s chief ministerial ambitions were crushed by an order from the Supreme Court, which convicted her in the 20-year-old assets case along with two of her relatives. The court upheld a lower court order that said they, along with Ms Jayalalithaa, were guilty of amassing enormous wealth in the 1990s beyond known sources of income.