Explained: What is the Kodanad case and why has it set off a political storm in Tamil Nadu?

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August 31, 2021 11:43 AM

The investigation in the case which started during the AIADMK regime has raised quite a few questions.

While the AIADMK has accused the ruling DMK of a political witch hunt, the DMK has maintained that the investigation is meant to bring out the truth in the case.

A crucial case set to come up for hearing in the district sessions court in Ooty on September 2. It is the Kodanad case that not only threatens to shake the political foundation of the AIADMK but has pitched arch-rivals DMK and the AIADMK against each other again. The hearing in the Kodanad case has already seen heated arguments inside court, while the two big parties of Tamil Nadu have been trading barbs outside. The case had even reached the Tamil Nadu Assembly with the AIADMK alleging political vendetta and the DMK saying it is working to fulfil one of its poll promises.

What is the Kodanad case?

The Kodanad Estate was once the summer retreat of former CM J Jayalalithaa. The property was initially spread over 900 acres of land and is said to be doubled in size. It was named as one of the disproportionate assets acquired by Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. However, besides this, the lush property hit headlines for all the wrong reasons from 2017 – a murder of a security guard, a robbery at Jayalalithaa’s retreat, three deaths allegedly due to road accidents, and suicide of an estate employee who was in charge of CCTV cameras and computers followed by political mudslinging.

So, why a political war over these serious crimes?

The investigation in the case which started during the AIADMK regime has raised quite a few questions. According to the prosecution, the security guard was killed during the robbery while another security guard was injured. Of the 11 people involved in the case, 10 have been arrested and one Kanagaraj died allegedly in an accident. Interestingly, the robbers had come in three vehicles including two high-end SUVs and what they took along with them? ‘A crystal rhinoceros figurine and 5 watches which appear to be very cheap.’ After the death of Jayalalithaa, VK Sasikala inherited the property and surprisingly, the police neither questioned her nor took her statement to find out what all valuables were missing. In fact, the police even did not prepare the missing articles mahazar. Also, the police do not know the whereabouts of the sole eyewitness to the burglary – Kishan Bahadur- the second guard who was injured. According to the officials, Bahadur had recorded his statement and was allowed to return to his hometown in Nepal and now his current location is not known. When the incident happened on April 28, 2017, many top bureaucrats had reached the crime scene before the investigative officers and forensic experts. The forensic experts had said that evidence was tampered with before they arrived at the crime scene.

KV Sayan, one of the key players in the case and whose car met with an accident in which he survived but lost his wife and daughter, has been demanding further investigation into the case saying he has ‘secret information’ to share with the court.

Last week, two contradictory pleas were filed in the Madras HC – one demanding interrogation of former chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and V K Sasikala while the second seeking a stay on any further investigation.

While the AIADMK has accused the ruling DMK of a political witch hunt, the DMK has maintained that the investigation is meant to bring out the truth in the case. With many glaring loopholes, the DMK claims that the fresh investigation will help affected people get justice in the case.

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