Dr. K.S. Sivakumar of Apollo Hospitals, who was the only other person in the room when the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa fell unconscious on the night of September 22, 2016 – ahead of her hospitalisation – has contradicted the sequence of events narrated by his aunt V.K. Sasikala, documents available with the Justice A. Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry reveal.
In her affidavit filed last December, Sasikala had said that she had helped Jayalalithaa to the bed from the bathroom, after which she fell unconscious, her head coming to rest on her shoulder. It was at this point that Dr. Sivakumar was said to have entered the room.
However, Dr. Sivakumar who appeared before the commission in January, March, May 2 and May 26, has, in his chief examination, claimed that he was also in the room with Jayalalithaa. “I stayed in the room till Amma (Jayalalithaa) returned from the bathroom. She laid down. As soon as she did, she had a severe bout of coughing. She leaned on Sasikala and me,” he had said according to leaked documents. He then rang up Vijay Kumar Reddy, husband of Apollo Hospitals’ vice-chairperson Preetha Reddy, requesting emergency assistance.
Dr. Sivakumar did not mention when Sasikala entered the room. He said that he had been talking to Sasikala – standing outside her room – and asking her to take Jayalalithaa to a hospital, when the Chief Minister emerged from the bathroom.
However, Dr. Sivakumar modified his statement during cross-examination by Sasikala’s lawyer N. Raja Senthoor Pandian, without mentioning the duration he said he was outside Jayalalithaa’s room, making calls to arrange the delivery of a nebuliser from Apollo Hospitals. “...I was outside Amma‘s room. I went in on hearing cries from chithi (aunt) Sasikala,” he said.
However, Mr. Pandian denied that are differences in the statements.
“There are no contradictions between Dr. Sivakumar’s and Sasikala’s statements; there can be minor differences in views. Such leaks are manipulative. Journalists should be permitted to participate in the proceedings of the commission to ensure transparency.”
According to Dr. Sivakumar, he returned from a pilgrimage to Sabarimala on September 19: he had advised Sasikala on administering various medicines to a feverish Jayalalithaa while travelling.
On September 22, Jayalalithaa summoned him at 11 a.m.; she told him she had no fever. He visited Jayalalithaa the same day, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. “Amma told me that a girl working at the (Poes) Garden had fungus infection and had been sent to the hospital. She said that she wouldn’t be able to tolerate it if she has the same condition. Only later at Apollo did we realise that Amma had heart and lung infections,” he said. Dr. Sivakumar felt so comfortable about Jayalalithaa’s health that he performed plastic surgery (on another patient) at his hospital after the visit.
On his way home, Sasikala called about Jayalalithaa’s worsening condition. He returned to Veda Nilayam at 8.45 p.m. to find a coughing Jayalalithaa running a slight fever.“The difference between the Amma I saw at 4 p.m. and the person I saw at 9 p.m. was that the latter was struggling with cough and wheezing,” he said.
He administered no medicines when Jayalalithaa fell unconscious and only tried to wake her up. He travelled in the ambulance with Sasikala to the hospital when Jayalalithaa held their hands tight. At Apollo, Jayalalithaa called him by name and asked where she was.
Whereas Sasikala had said that Jayalalithaa opened her eyes while the ambulance was turning into Greams Road, asking where she was. “We are going to Apollo Hospitals, akka (elder sister). Don’t worry,” she had said. Sasikala said Jayalalithaa held her hand.