Prisoner no. 9234 had a rough first day at Bengaluru's Parappana Agrahara Central Jail. While such may be the case for anyone who has the misfortune of serving jail time, the trial proved especially difficult for VK Sasikala, who is used to a life of comfort for the past several years.
The General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, along with her late mentor J Jayalalithaa and two others, by the Supreme Court and sentenced to four years of simple imprisonment.
Although Sasikala had spent 21 days with Jayalalithaa in the same jail some years ago before they were let out on bail, her sentence, this time around, is neither going to be revoked nor will she be allowed the VIP privileges she partook of by virtue of being the close companion of the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
According to reports, the jail authorities refused Sasikala's request for Class A accommodation. However, she was offered the choice of sharing a small 10 feet by 8 feet cell, fitted with a bathroom closed off by a partition, with her sister-in-law Elavarasi, who is a co-accused in the case. Apart from a fan, blanket and pillow, she had no other luxuries, although a cot was provided to her following the doctors' advice.
Since she was denied access to home-cooked food, Sasikala refused dinner — comprising ragi, rice, rotis and lentil, which is served to all prisoners — on the first night and did not sleep at all. She was up since dawn, did yoga, took a walk, read the newspapers and ate a frugal breakfast of tamarind rice, coaxed by Elavarasi.
Earlier, as she arrived in Bengaluru, police jeeps were sent to escort Sasikala to prison. But she refused to be driven around like a common criminal, declaring herself "no petty thief", and chose to walk the distance instead. According to sources, she appeared upset after her request for a VIP cell was turned down. She did not wear the white saris provided to her by the prison authorities, as she didn't have a suitable blouse to go with it.
Although she isn't serving a sentence of rigorous imprisonment, Sasikala, who is accused of having several crores worth of assets disproportionate to her known sources of income, will be expected to make candles during her time for which she will be paid ₹50 per day. Whether she will be interested in the job remains to be seen.
Although MLAs and members of AIADMK requested meetings with her, Sasikala has so far refused to see anyone. Apart from occasional exchanges with Elavarasi, she hasn't spoken much either. The only person who has tried saying hello to her is her closest jail mate, Cyanide Mallika, who is convicted of poisoning women for gold on temple premises. Sasikala ignored Cyanide Mallika's neighbourly overtures on the first evening, though she did smile at her, when she tried to speak to her again the next morning.
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