When hundreds of thousands of grieving people descended at Marina Beach in Chennai Tuesday to bid a final farewell to J Jayalalithaa, the presence of her nephew Deepak Jayakumar surprised everyone. While Deepak, the son of Jayalalithaa’s late brother J Jayakumar, was there, his sister Deepa missed out on the event. Asked about why she was not present at the funeral ceremony, she replied “I don’t know about it”, according to a report. A visibly upset Deepa said, “her passing away is a huge loss for me and my family”. Notably, she, had recently given interviews to Tamil channels complaining she was denied permission to see her ailing aunt. The family of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala had contacted Deepak to avoid any legal challenges in the post death affairs of the Tamil Nadu Chief minister, including those related to her property. But it remains a mystery why Deepa was kept away, an Indian Express report said.
Deepa has said that she had been visiting the hospital to see Jayalalithaa since September 22. “Even on Sunday, after she suffered the cardiac arrest, I was denied entry and information about her health. Police personnel, after making me wait for an hour outside the hospital gate, forcibly sent me off citing orders from their senior officers,” she said. Was not it illegal and inhuman, she asked.
Deepa said that her family had lost access to Jayalalithaa after her father’s death in 1995. She admitted that the controversial wedding of Jayalalithaa’s foster son Sudhakaran, nephew of Sasikala, first strained relationships between her father and aunt. “It was a shock for him. Still I do not think he objected to the adoption,” Deepa said. “Definitely it had strained relationships. But that does not mean that we were not on talking terms. Aunt was the first one who rushed to our house when my father died. She used to call him Pappu and she was Ammu for him.’
Deepa said that she last met Jayalalithaa in 2002. “Even when my mother died, we tried to contact her. But I still believe that the message did not reach her on time,” she said. “Here the question is not about how close we were.’’ She insisted that they never had any enmity. “We have been leading a normal life while she was Chief Minister of the state. There were obvious gaps in relationships. But none of these were a reason for them to stop me from seeing her,’’ said Deepa, a media studies research scholar at a UK university. “The police should not have denied my basic right when she was in such a serious condition.’’
Deepa said that even after her father’s death Jayalalithaa used to call them whenever she found time. “There were occasional visits too. Whenever she saw me, she would be in disbelief to admit that I was no more a little girl,” she said. “I remember her gifts, mostly books… Both my father and aunt had always maintained an intimate relationship.”