‘Dacoity suspects were intercepted as they fled’
No valuables or documents were found in their vehicles, says ex-Nilgiris SP
The suspects who broke into the sprawling Kodanad estate of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on April 23, 2017 were intercepted by the Gudalur police as they fled from the crime scene. There were was no valuables, storage devices or documents in their vehicle, Murali Rambha, who was then Superintendent of Police, Nilgiris, said on Sunday.
Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Rambha, now Thoothukudi SP, said the suspects, who came in two vehicles with Kerala registration numbers, were found to be in possession of a glass showpiece and watches. “They were intercepted within a couple of hours. The Gudalur police even detained them on suspicion. However, they were allowed to go after some locals identified them and vouched for their good antecedents. Another vehicle, which went on the Coimbatore side, was searched at a police checkpost near Kothagiri,” he said.
Road accident case
A day after the dacoity, Mr. Rambha said he received the images of the glass showpiece and the watches on his mobile phone.
The showpiece appeared to be similar to another one in the bungalow. Enquiries revealed that a Chennaibased businessman had gifted the showpieces to Jayalalithaa.
“After it became clear that the gang that was intercepted by the Gudalur police was the one involved in the dacoity, we followed specific leads and arrested them. The stolen property was recovered. The accused said that they broke into the estate hoping to find huge cash or gold...they didn’t want to kill the security guard but only attempted to silence him,” he said.
Ruling out foul play in the death of the prime suspect, Kanagaraj, in a road accident, Mr. Rambha said though the incident took place in the Attur police station limits in Salem, he went there to inspect the scene and make enquiries. “Kanagaraj came on a motorcycle on the wrong lane and collided head-on with a vehicle that came from the opposite direction from Bengaluru. The driver of the other vehicle had no connection with any person in T.N. that could be construed as suspicious...we even perused his mobile calls before and after the accident,” he said.
Kanagaraj, who worked as a car driver for Jayalalithaa’s aide V.K. Sasikala, was terminated from service in 2013 and remained jobless thereafter. However, he maintained contacts with some people working in the estate. He had conspired with Sayan to break into the bungalow and steal valuables, Mr. Rambha said.
After realising that the security guard had died of suffocation, the duo escaped to Andhra Pradesh and stayed at a lodge in Kadapa district. “We examined the CCTV footage in the hotel and identified them. After a few days, they returned to Tamil Nadu,” he said.
They were allowed to go after some locals identified them and vouched for their good antecedents