Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa passed away late Monday night at Apollo Hospital in the city after a protracted battle with illness. The end came around 11.30 pm. The official announcement of her death was made a little past midnight. The announcement was preceded by a meeting of the AIADMK MLAs at the party headquarters.
Earlier in the evening, trouble erupted outside the Apollo Hospital here after TV channel reported that Jayalalithaa was dead. The hospital denied the TV report. As the Sun TV report spread outside the hospital where thousands were gathered, some AIADMK supporters tried to break into the complex and were pushed back by police. Many others simply broke down, unable to check their emotions. There were loud cries of “Amma, Amma!” The Apollo Hospitals hurriedly denied the Sun TV report.
“A large number of doctors from Apollo and AIIMS continue to provide all life saving measures,” a tweet from Sangita Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, said.
“Some TV channels are wrongly reporting that the Honourable CM is no more. It is totally baseless and false. They are advised to rectify this mistake based on this press release,” the hospital said in a statement after news channels reported that the AIADMK leader was no more.
The hospital statement said Jayalalithaa continued to be on life support. “The Apollo specialists and specialists from AIIMS are continually monitoring the CM very closely,” it said.
The condition of Jayalalithaa, 68, who suffered a cardiac arrest Sunday evening, was stated to be very critical condition. AIADMK flag was lowered at party headquarters in Royapettah though there was no official word on Jayalalithaa’s latest condition. However, it was soon hoisted up again.
But before the clarification came from the hospital, the Sun TV report triggered frenzy both outside the hospital, where thousands had gathered since Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest Sunday, and at the AIADMK headquarters.
A group of emotionally charged AIADMK activists tried to barge into the hospital after breaking the police barricades but were pushed back by the police. Earlier, a London-based medical consultant who is assisting doctors treating the leader said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s condition is “extremely grave”.
“The situation is extremely grave but I can confirm that everything possible is being done to give her the best chance of surviving (the cardiac arrest),” Richard Beale said in a statement. Beale, from the London Bridge Hospital, has been regularly consulted by doctors at the Apollo Hospitals here ever since Jayalalithaa was admitted in September.
Earlier, Apollo Hospital’s joint managing director Sangita Reddy tweeted, “Despite our best efforts, our beloved CM remains in a grave situation.” This came barely two hours after the hospital in an official statement had said that Jayalalithaa “continues to be very critical”. Jayalalithaa’s condition is “very critical”, Apollo Hospitals had earlier said, just hours after a Union minister claimed that she was out of danger.
Apollo said the AIADMK supremo, who had been in hospital since September, was being treated and closely monitored by experts. Crowds began to mass outside the hospital from Sunday evening as news that Jayalalithaa had suffered a cardiac arrest spread like wild fire. Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, who has additional charge of Tamil Nadu, visited the hospital Sunday night.
But he did not issue any statement after his hospital visit. On earlier occasions, Raj Bhavan used to issue statements each time he visited Apollo Hospital.
A large number of police personnel were deployed at the hospital. Security was also stepped up across the sprawling state where Jayalalithaa enjoys widespread support.
Tamil Nadu ministers and legislators gathered at the hospital along with a mass of AIADMK activists and Jayalalithaa fans.
Some men and women, their hands folded, offered silent prayers for Jayalalithaa’s early recovery. Some tried to enter the hospital premises but were restrained. Jayalalithaa’s posters were held high by her supporters. Fans also offered special prayers in temples.
Some parts of Chennai experienced shortages of milk as traders jacked up prices fearing a shutdown. President Pranab Mukherjee joined the political class in wishing Jayalalithaa a speedy recovery.
“Distressed to hear about Jayalalithaa suffering a cardiac arrest, my prayers for her speedy recovery,” said a post on the President’s Twitter account. DMK chief M Karunanidhi and his son and party leader MK Stalin also conveyed their best wishes for her recovery.
“Praying for Jayalalithaaji’s quick recovery. I hope she gets better very soon,” said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her concern. “May God bless her.”
“Maharashtra prays for her speedy recovery,” posted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje tweeted: “May she recover soon.” RJD chief Lalu Prasad said: “Totally worried… Let’s all pray for her.” Apollo Hospital had earlier said she was on the road to recovery and she could take a decision on going home.
Meanwhile, authorities in Kerala strengthened security on the border with Tamil Nadu. Police were put on alert in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki and Palakkad districts that border Tamil Nadu.