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Turning Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence into memorial is easier said than done

Deepa and Deepak Jayakumar, relatives of the late chief minister, insist that they are legal heirs to the coveted property. While Deepak wants the government to acquire their consent for turning the private home into public property, his sister has promised to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court.

tamil nadu Updated: Aug 20, 2017 07:47 IST
KV Lakshmana
KV Lakshmana
Hindustan Times, Chennai
J Jayalalithaa,Poes Garden,Veda Nilayam
Deepa Jayakumar, niece of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, has declared that she will oppose the government’s attempts to take over the Poes Garden residence. (PTI photo)

State security forces took control of the Poes Garden residence of late AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Friday, hours after chief minister Edapaddi Palanisamy announced that the bungalow will be converted into a public memorial in her honour.

AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala had been staying at the imposing Veda Nilayam until February, when she was sent to the Bangalore Central Jail in connection with a corruption case. It was here that she used to hold court, summoning consecutive chief ministers O Panneerselvam and Palanisamy at will and staving off attempts by Deepa Jayakumar – her deceased friend’s niece – to lay claim on the coveted piece of property.

Though Sasikala had spent a good part of her life with Jayalalithaa at the Veda Nilayam, she may not be able to take up residence here upon her release from prison. It is believed that she will remain incarcerated at least for the next two years.

Many police personnel could be seen posted around the Poes Garden residence on Friday. “Only domestic helps who maintain the building are being allowed inside, and that too after thorough screening,” said a policeman on duty.

But converting Jayalalithaa’s house into a memorial is easier said than done, considering that both Deepa and her brother – Deepak – insist that they are the legal heirs to the property. While Jayalalithaa was clearly named as the rightful owner of all properties under the control of the Natya Kala Niketan (comprising Veda Nilayam and other properties in Hyderabad) by her mother, it is not known if the late chief minister had left behind any will. Her brother Jayakumar was accorded properties in centrally located Thyagaraya Nagar, which are likely to be passed on to his children – Deepa and Deepak – upon his demise.

Deepak expressed surprise at the government’s decision on Saturday, stating in a letter to Palanisamy that his grandmother’s probated will makes him and his sister the rightful heirs to the Poes Garden property. Though Deepak maintained that the government cannot unilaterally convert a private home into state property, he expressed willingness to go along with Palanisamy’s plans if steps were taken to acquire their consent.

“At the very least, the government will have to adequately compensate Jayalalithaa’s relatives for it,” a lawyer said on the condition of anonymity.

Deepa, however, asserted that she would take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. “The Poes Garden property was purchased by my grandmother, and it should rightfully come to us,” she said.

Though Deepa and Deepak have not always been on the best of terms, it remains to be seen whether they will unite in their fight for the sprawling legacy that Jayalalithaa left behind in one of the most upmarket places in Chennai.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 10:14 IST