Apollo Hospital says all CCTV cameras in Jayalalithaa's room were switched off during her stay
The CCTV footage could have not only revealed whether Jayalalithaa was conscious in the days before her death but would have shown who all had access to her while she was undergoing treatment.
In a fresh revelation related to the mystery surrounding Jayalalithaa's death, Apollo Hospital on Thursday said that all the CCTV cameras in the intensive care unit where former Tamil Nadu chief minister was kept were switched off soon after she was admitted, media reports said.
The hospital's chairman Prathap Reddy revealed that the ICU ward was secluded soon after Jayalalithaa was admitted and since she was the only person occupying the 24-bed ward, the CCTV cameras were switched off "because they did not want everybody watching".
It was not immediately clear, who ordered the CCTV cameras to be switched off.
Reddy was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference of the Apollo International Colorectal Symposium 2018, when a reporter asked him if the hospital has also submitted the CCTV footage from the 75-days-long stay of the former chief minister to the panel probing her death, Times Now reported.
To this, Reddy replied: "I am sorry but unfortunately all the CCTV cameras were switched off after Jayalalithaa was admitted. Since she was a VVIP person, she was the only person occupying that ward and all other patients were diverted to another ICU. The cameras were switched off because they did not want everybody to be watching."
He clarified that the hospital had submitted all relevant documents to the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of inquiry probing her death, including all medical records, as he added that the staff gave her the best care, India Today reported.
"The matter is sub judice, as a one-man commission is holding an inquiry. She was at the hospital for several days. From ward boys to technicians to nurses to doctors everyone took good care of her. There were doctors from other countries as well. We had high hopes she would recover. I even said she was well," he was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The revelation raises questions that why a measure which would have ensured added security to a VVIP guest was pulled down and on whose order. The CCTV footage could have not only revealed whether Jayalalithaa was conscious in the days before her death but would have shown who all had access to her while she was undergoing treatment.
Speaking to India Today newly-formed Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazhagam (AMMK) leader CR Saraswathy questioned the timing of the hospital's revelation and questioned that who authorised the hospital to remove security cameras.
"Mr Panneerselvam was the acting chief minister at the time. We should ask who told them to switch off the cameras," she asked, pushing the blame on the rival AIADMK faction.
"Why are they saying all this now, after Sasikala madam has submitted her statements to the commission, why were they silent for one-and-half years," she asked.
Sasikala had on Wednesday submitted an affidavit to the one-man commission probing Jayalalithaa's death, detailing her version of events preceding the former chief minister's demise.
Jayalalithaa's close aide, who was one of the few people who had access to the chief minister in her final days, told the Justice Arumughaswamy Commission, that the former Tamil Nadu chief minister refused to heed her advice to go to hospital, but was later rushed to Apollo Hospital in Chennai after she fainted in her bedroom.
"She called to me for help. I suggested going to the hospital, but she refused. She passed out and I called the doctor for an ambulance," Sasikala said.
It is noteworthy here that even though the CCTV footage is unavailable, Sasikala said she made four videos of Jayalalithaa with permission and has submitted them to the commission. The videos were an effort to document Jayalalithaa's health, she claimed.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospital on the night of 22 September, 2016 and passed away on 5 December, 2016. Following her death, suspicion over the circumstances leading to her demise was raised by several persons, including Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and his followers.
Later, the Tamil Nadu government formed the Arumughaswamy Commission to probe her death. The panel's terms of reference were to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa and treatment provided till her demise.