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Exclusive: Did Sasikala go out of Bengaluru prison?

CCTV footage shows her entering the jail in civilian clothes; former DIG (Prisons) Roopa hands over evidence to ACB

Video footage showing AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala and her relative Ilavarasi, convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case, walking into the main entry area of the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru in civilian clothes, has been given to the Anti-Corruption Bureau of the Karnataka police.

Former DIG of Prisons D. Roopa, who blew the lid off the special treatment meted out to prisoners including Sasikala, on Saturday submitted the footage taken from the CCTV recording of the central prison complex, as part of her statement to the ACB. The fresh evidence raises suspicion on whether the two convicts went out of the prison in connivance with top prison officials.

After being summoned by the ACB, the whistleblower IPS officer, who had given details of her reports to then DGP of Prisons H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao, submitted 74 enclosures as evidence to substantiate her charge.

According to police sources, Ms. Roopa received summons from the ACB on July 31, 2017, the day Mr. Sathyanarayana Rao retired. When she appeared before the investigating officers a couple of days later, they gave her a questionnaire. On Saturday, she gave her version in writing, along with photographs and video footage. Ms. Roopa was shifted out to the Traffic and Safety wing after she exposed the scam.

Sasikala CCTV footage

 

Evidence given
When The Nusify, which has accessed the CCTV footage, contacted Ms. Roopa, she confirmed that she had given evidence to the ACB on Saturday. The enclosures included a video footage — taken from the prison CCTV — showing Sasikala and Ilavarasi, each carrying a bag, entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards. The Superintendent of the Women’s Prison is seen escorting them into the campus.

“Male guards are not allowed inside the women’s prison complex. Their deployment is outside the women’s prison premises at the main gate… it has to be investigated where she (Sasikala) is coming from and who permitted it,” Ms. Roopa said.

Parrying questions on whether the enquiry committee, led by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar, was aware of the footage, Ms. Roopa said all the footage was in the prison database. It was clear that the convicts were given special treatment apparently for pecuniary gains. This was abuse of official position and a punishable offence under Section 13(1) (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, she said.

“Inside or outside the women barrack there is no male guard. So this appears like main gate of the prison on the road from where anybody enters…I have written this in the report and attached this video, requesting the ACB to check to which camera the footage belongs to and enquire whether they (the convicts) are coming from outside,” Ms. Roopa said.

Sasikala and Ilavarasi entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards.

Access to visitors

In her 12-page report, Ms. Roopa has pointed to the special facilities extended to Sasikala while meeting visitors in an exclusive private room. Other prisoners meet visitors in a gallery where a mesh separates inmates and others,

“There is a CCTV camera covering the visitors gallery…I don’t think you can find the convict meeting any of her visitors there. I have suggested that the visitors who met Sasikala should also be examined,” she told Nusify.

Meanwhile, the sources said Ms. Roopa also gave evidence to the Vinay Kumar committee that might probe more into the irregularities than the corruption angle. The committee submitted its interim report to the Karnataka Chief Minister recently and sought more time to submit the final report.

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