Jayalalithaa declared dead after crowd thinned

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Sasikala Natarajan, left standing, a close friend of India's Tamil Nadu state former Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa, wipes her tears next to Jayalalithaa's body wrapped in the national flag and kept for public viewing outside an auditorium in Chennai, India, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Jayalalithaa, the hugely popular south Indian actress who later turned to politics and became the highest elected official in the state of Tamil Nadu, died Monday. She was 68. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Chennai: Apparently in a bid to avert a riot and possibly because the politicians were not ready for the news to be aired either, the Apollo Hospital management declared the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayaram Jayalalithaa dead past last midnight. The hospital authority put the dying time at 11:30 PM.

Jayalalithaa had reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest on 4 December, but she was being speculated to be dead for several weeks. सिर्फ़ News has learnt that she was on the life support system for several weeks even when the doctors treating her had reached a consensus that there was little hope of reviving her.

ammaJayalalithaa had been admitted to Apollo Hospitals, Greame’s Road, Chennai, on 22 September following complaints of infection and acute dehydration. But she was found to be suffering from severe pulmonary infection and septicaemia as well, which were cured. Much earlier, Jayalalithaa, a diabetic, had to get her toes amputated. In the absence of her toes, she needed special shoes to maintain her balance while standing and walking.

In these more than 10 weeks, doctors not only from Apollo but also from the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and from the UK visited her.

In October, under pressure from the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu, DMK, Jayalalithaa’s duties were transferred to her aide O Panneerselvam on 12 October. Panneerselvam has succeeded Jayalalithaa as the State’s Chief Minister.

In a dramatic turn of events on 4 December, which lasted till late in the night of the 5th, AIIMS’ visiting doctors declared her “fit” to be moved to her house in Poes Garden. But at 4:45 PM, she had to be moved to the CCU after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Apollo Hospital’s executive director Sangita Reddy said that she was in a critical state. The hospital also released a press statement saying that the chief minister’s condition was “very critical” and that she was on life support.

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Apollo Hospital says it tried till 11:30 PM of 5 December

The area around the hospital witnessed a build-up of crowd, as Jayalalithaa’s supporters suspected that her end was near following heavy deployment of security forces in the zone. Even before the news they dreaded was made official, many had begun wailing, shedding copious tears and beating breasts.

This mourning gave way to mild violence when the initial report of her death emerged on some Tamil language television channels. Some fans of Jayalalithaa accused Apollo Hospital of having “cheated” them, and started pelting stones and breaking police barricades. They were, however, pacified soon.

With the passing of the night, a smaller crowd in front of the hospital gate remained while vehicles of VIPs were seen moving in and out of Apollo Hospital.

Finally at 12:13 AM, the hospital authorities distributed a press release they had drafted to the journalists waiting outside the gate. It reported that Jayalalithaa had died at 11:30 PM on 5 December.