It was an emotional family reunion at the high-security Tihar complex on Monday as DMK chief M Karunanidhi met his daughter and Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, jailed in connection with the 2G spectrum scam. The former Tamil Nadu chief minister, who was planning to fly back to Chennai after meeting her, chose to stay back and met union Home Minister P Chidambaram.
The 87-year-old DMK chief also met former telecom minister A Raja and the family-run Kalaingar TV's managing director Sharad Kumar, who are also lodged in the jail.
It was an emotional scene when the father met his daughter after four days - she was arrested Friday in one of India's biggest corruption scams. Karunanidhi, who was accompanied by his third wife and Kanimozhi's mother Rajathi Ammal and 11-year-old grandson Adithyan and her husband GAravinthan - met her together in the 9X7 foot room of the deputy superintendent of jail number 6. Kanimozhi is in the same jail and it is a women's jail.
"It was an emotional moment when the family met," sources said, without giving more details.
"They all had a cup of tea and the meeting lasted for around 30 to 35 minutes," sources added.
The DMK chief, who was in the national capital on a "personal visit", reached the jail premises at 5.43 pm. and left in an hour at around 6.45 pm.
Director General (Prisons) Neeraj Kumar later told reporters that Karunanidhi entered the jail through the administrative block as he enjoys Z-plus security. He also said that a special request had been made that as the DMK leader was old and wheel-chair bound a place should be arranged where he could easily visit the three accused.
"He was allotted a deputy superintendent's room in jail number 6. It was selected because it was on the ground floor," Kumar told reporters.
Karunanidhi first met his 43-year-old daughter and then Raja and Sharad Kumar, who were brought from their respective jails. "While the family met Kanimozhi, the DMK leader met the two others alone," he added.
Karunanidhi was escorted by DMK parliamentary party chief TR Baalu who stayed outside jail number 6.
The DMK chief, who came in black Mercedes, was accompanied by seven security cars and an ambulance. DMK leader Durai Murugan and K. Ponmudi were also present but were standing outside the jail number 6 with TR Baalu, although they had permission to meet the three accused.
DMK MP KP Ramalingam said: "It is purely a family visit and not a political one. That is why he never met any top UPA (United Progressive Alliance) leaders," he told reporters later. But, Karunanidhi changed his mind after meeting his daughter and cancelled his flight back home, which was at 8 pm.
From the jail, Karunanidhi left for the Taj Mansingh Hotel and met Chidambaram.
"The meeting lasted 15 minutes. "It was an important meeting, as the emotional Karunanidhi met his adorable daughter Kanimozhi for the first time ever since she was arrested and sent to jail," a DMK leader told IANS. The DMK chief later shifted to Maurya Sherton as he was finding it difficult to easily move around in the five-star hotel as he is wheel-chair bound, the leader added.
Meanwhile, Kumar told reporters that Kanimozhi has not asked for any special facilities inside the jail. "She sleeps on the floor. It was Raja who requested for some Tamil newspapers which are being provided," added Kumar.
Kanimozhi, who was sent to jail by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court on Friday after her bail petition was denied, filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court on Monday. It will come up for hearing on Tuesday.
At the court, Kanimozhi was seen playing with her son Adithayan who did not leave her for a moment and sat on her lap all through the proceedings.
She hugged her son several times and kept holding his hand, sometimes chit-chatting with him and sometimes smiling.
"The arrest (of Kanimozhi) is a vendetta against DMK and my family," Karunanidhi had said in an open letter to party cadres in the DMK official journal Friday.
In an apparent expression of the DMK's disappointment over the arrest of Kanimozhi, none of the six ministers of the party attended the second anniversary function of the UPA-II government here Sunday. The DMK was represented only by former minister TR Baalu.
At the jail, Ramalingam added: "We will extend our moral support to her (Kanimozhi). We will camp in Delhi -- go to the court and come to the jail,"
"Tomorrow (Tuesday) MK Stalin (Karunanidhi's son and Kanimozhi's half brother) will come to meet her (in the jail)," Ramalingam said.