New Delhi/Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK icon J. Jayalalithaa passed away on Monday night at Chennai’s Apollo Hospital at 11:30 pm, according to a press release issued around midnight. The actor-turned politician was 68.
In the early hours of Tuesday, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam, was sworn in a chief minister by acting governor Vidyasagar Rao. A Jayalalithaa loyalist, he had been tasked by her to stand in for her on several occasions in the past, including during her recent hospitalisation.
The AIADMK party’s Twitter handle announced the chief minister’s death soon after the hospital released the news. ” Our beloved leader, the Iron lady of India Puratchi Thalaivi Amma is no more,” the tweet said.
Our beloved leader, The Iron Lady of India Puratchi Thalaivi Amma is no more.
— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) December 5, 2016
Jayalalithaa had for the last two months been at Apollo Hospital due to a prolonged medical condition that reportedly affected her respiratory system. On Sunday, after nearly a month of very few updates, Apollo Hospital released a statement that said the chief minister had suffered a “cardiac arrest”, without providing further details.
At the time, as The Wire noted, a number of reports had been circulating that the chief minister was critical. On Sunday, hospital officials also announced that Jayalalithaa was being treated by ECMO or extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, under which the heart and lung functions are managed outside the body. Jayalalithaa has been on respiratory support since her hospitalisation and was said to have developed complications on Sunday evening.
Apollo press release
A hospital press release said that after her “massive cardiac arrest” on Sunday evening, the chief minister was administered resuscitation (CPR) and provided ECMO support within the hour.
“Every possible clinical attempt was made to sustain her revival,” the statement said. “However, despite our best efforts, the Honourable Chief Minister’s underlying conditiosn rendered her unable to recover and she passed away at 11:30 PM today (5/12/2016)”.
City on alert
Earlier in the day, several local TV channels falsely reported that the chief minister had passed away, after which there was a brief episode of commotion outside the hospital as AIADMK cadres and the party’s workers got upset, but peace was quickly restored outside the hospital’s premises.
There are large police contingents around the Nungambakkam, Poes Garden and Gopalapuram areas, which are all immediately adjacent to where Jayalalithaa has been hospitalised and where her residence is. Policemen have been going around the city shutting down all shops where people could gather in large numbers. Because of widespread uncertainty over what is going to happen next, everyone is stocking up on food, rations, petrol, etc., enough to last them through the week. However, since most shops began shutting earlier in the day, there are large traffic jams, especially around those few areas where some kirana stores and ATMs continue to be open. In many streets around the city – though The Wire couldn’t verify if it was in most of the city – street lamps have been shut off.
Mobile networks have also been erratic through the day.
Note: This story was updated after Apollo Hospital noted that the chief minister passed away at 11:30 PM. An earlier version of this story documented how several TV channels erroneously reported her death earlier in the day.