The 2017 break-in and murder at late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s estate in Kodanad returned to the headlines last week following a 16-minute investigative documentary. Former Tehelka Editor Mathew Samuel’s report alleges that Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami was behind the break-in to retrieve important documents and the subsequent deaths. While EPS went on to deny the allegations, calling them politically motivated, the opposition has sought his resignation and demanded a SIT probe into the matter.
Beyond the allegations and politics, what happened that fateful day in Jayalalithaa’s favourite summer retreat? TNM traces the events and the subsequent deaths that have further intensified the mystery surrounding the original crime.
April 24, 2017
Jayalalithaa’s 800-acre tea estate in Kodanad witnessed a break-in and murder in the wee hours of April 24, 2017, over four months after the former Chief Minister’s death. While Om Bahadur, the security guard at the high-profile estate was found murdered, another guard was injured in what police had believed to be a robbery attempt by a ten-member gang. According to The Week, Om Bahadur, who was standing guard at Gate No. 10 was attacked by a gang of masked men, his mouth stuffed with cloth and then taped. He was found hanging upside down from a tree with his throat slit. At Gate No. 8, another guard Krishna Bahadur was also assaulted, tied up and sedated.
At the time, police said that the burglars had broken into the rooms that had been used by both Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. The police also stated that the surveillance cameras had been removed prior to the crime by the estate management, reported Deccan Chronicle. And while initially reports suggested that the burglars had made away with only the mobile phones of the guards, the police chargesheet later stated that five watches and a crystal showpiece was stolen.
April 27, 2017
Three days after the murder at Kodanad, the police made its first arrest. They then collected evidence that pointed to Sayan, a man from Kerala, who could have been the leader of the gang that broke into the estate.
April 28, 2017
Seven more persons were arrested. During the interrogation, the name of Kanakaraj, a former driver at Jayalalithaa’s Kodanad estate came up. According to the police, Kanagaraj, who had been sacked, had plotted the break-in with Sayan. The same day, a manhunt was launched for Kanagaraj.
But what happened next is the reason the case has gotten murkier with several questions raised over whether there was more to the burglary than the actual crime itself. Two suspects were involved in two separate accidents in two different states. While one survived, the other died.
On the same day the police was on the lookout for Kanagaraj, he was killed in a road accident in Salem.
Meanwhile, Sayan who was travelling by car with his wife and five-year-old daughter from Thrissur to Palakkad, met with an accident. While Sayan survived the crash, and went on to be named as accused number 2 in the Kodanad break-in and murder, his wife and daughter were killed in the accident.
In the following days, the police went on to arrest three other gang members, who were involved in the break-in.
July 03, 2017
Three months on, another worker at the Kodanad estate was found dead. This time it was suicide. Dinesh Kumar, a 24-year-old assistant who worked in the computer section of the estate, allegedly killed himself at his home on July 3. However, police had at the time said there was nothing suspicious about his death. They had told TNM that Dinesh had killed himself as he was unable to take the pain following a surgery that he had underwent.
The chargesheet in the case was filed in September 2017. The trial is still underway.
Source: The News Minute