Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami on Saturday denied that he had any links with the armed burglary into the Kodanad estate of late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in which the watchman was bludgeoned to death and the burglars themselves died in mysterious road accidents later.
Talking to reporters, Palanisami said he had lodged a police complaint against former Tehelka journalist Samuel Mathews who made the allegation against him in a press meet in New Delhi.
He said:”I categorically deny that I have anything to do with this and suspect it is a political conspiracy”, He said had lodged a police complaint against the journalist to find out who were behind the conspiracy.
Mathews alleged that former Jayalalitha’s long-time car driver and the burglar Kanakaraj carried out the break-in in the Kodanad estate in April 2017 with the help of Sayan from Kerala who worked there to get at dossiers Jayalalitha had kept in her bungalow. Mathews said Kanakaraj acted at the behest of Palanisami.
Mathews presented Sayan as well as another suspect Manoj at the press meet and played a confessional statement they had made to him.
Kanaka himself died five hours after the burglary when his two-wheeler was knocked down by a car near Athur on the highway to Salem, the native district of Palanisami.
Sayan was seriously injured in the car accident the day after when he was going to Thrissur from Palakkad. His wife Vinay Kumari and four-year-old girl died in the accident.
Sayan ( 35) a native of Irinjalakuda near Thrissur, had been living in Coimbatore for several years and working as the manager of a bakery. Sayan had told the police that his car had rammed into a stationary lorry on the Palakkad-Thrissur road. After initial treatment in Palakkad, Sayan was shifted to a hospital Coimbatore where a judicial magistrate recorded his statement.
Sayan’s wife Vinupriya (30) and daughter Neethu (5) were found dead inside the car. Doctors, who examined the bodies at the Government district hospital in Palakkad, said they found deep slashes on the back of the neck in both mother and daughter, raising suspicions that they might have been murdered ahead of the accident. Police said the registration number of the car was also found to be bogus.
The burglars killed Nepali watchman Kim Bahadur Thapa and injured another watchman Krishna Bahadur Thapa. It was the injured watchman who helped the police to identify Kanakaraj and Sayan, who worked as an assistant to a carpenter Sajeevan in the estate and who therefore knew the interiors of the White Mansion in the estate where Jayalalitha spent her holidays with her aide Sasikala.
Initial reports by the Nilgiri police said that no valuables were stolen except for a few watches and a crystal showpiece from the personal rooms of Jayalalitha.
The police also said three suitcases kept in a hall adjacent to the bed rooms of Jayalalitha and Sasikala were found broken open. Mathews surmised that the documents the burglars were after were kept in those suitcases.
Mathews said police, who initially investigated whether the two “accidents” within hours of each were a coincidence or whether the burglars were bumped off, later closed the case as accidents.