From the portals of posh Poes Garden in Chennai to the iron gates of Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru, it was a long journey for AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala on Wednesday.
All her options of avoiding imprisonment for at least four weeks closed with the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant any such relief.
Sasikala finally had no choice but to leave Veda Nilayam, No. 81, Poes Garden in Chennai, the power centre with which she was associated for over three decades, and head for the Bengaluru Central Prison to serve the four-year sentence in a corruption case.
Around 6pm, Sasikala surrendered before the special court on the prison premises along with her sister-in-law Ilavarasi and nephew Sudhakaran, amidst heavy police bandobust.
Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai and Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan arrived at the prison well in advance to oversee the surrender formalities.
There was a brief period of chaos, when miscreants attacked vehicles with Tamil Nadu registration numbers. However, police rubbished suggestions that these attacks were a result of tension between the two states.
Elaborate arrangements had been made in the city ahead of Sasikala’s arrival. She was produced before the judge at the special court on the jail premises, as the local police did not want traffic snarls in the city.
After a medical check-up, Sasikala was sent to a cell, which she will share with other inmates, said HN Sathyanarayana Rao, director general of police (prisons). This arrangement is similar to her previous jail term in 2014, when she was imprisoned along with then chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who had been given a special cell near the dispensary.
Rao added that Sasikala would get normal food in accordance with the doctor’s advice.
In the morning, emotional scenes were witnessed at Poes Garden, as Sasikala came out at around 11.30am to leave for the Bengaluru prison.
A large number of AIADMK leaders and activists thronged Poes Garden to express their solidarity with Chinnamma. Sporting badges of “Amma” and “Chinnamma”, they raised slogans in support of Sasikala and she responded with folded hands, as her convoy waded through the surging crowds.
She was visibly in a very agitated and disturbed mood and apparently, she was yet to digest the fact that she would have to be away from power and spend life in jail with a lot of disgrace.
Draped in a red silk saree, Sasikala, along with her followers, straightaway drove to Jayalalithaa’s memorial at the Marina beach, where she paid floral tributes to her departed friend. She stood there with folded hands for some time before angrily thumping her hand on the memorial as if she was taking a pledge that she would stage a comeback and restore Jayalalithaa’s legacy. She also offered floral tributes to AIADMK founder and late chief minister MG Ramachandran on her way to Bengaluru.