- Cop D Roopa had alleged VK Sasikala getting VIP treatment in prison
- Also said bribes were apparently paid; her senior rubbished the charges
- Inquiry ordered into scandal, cop says she is being singled out
In a report to the Karnataka government this week, the officer had alleged VK Sasikala, the chief of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK, is enjoying VIP facilities in prison including an exclusive kitchen. The report referred to "speculation" that Sasikala paid 2 crores for privileges and her boss Mr Rao could have been a beneficiary.
The officer's report based on her inspection on 10 July, however, leaked out, forcing Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to announce an inquiry into her controversial findings.
But a day later, the Chief Minister also declared that action could be taken against the officer for going to media, pointing that service rules don't allow officials to speak to the media.
This isn't fair, Ms Roopa said, asserting that she didn't leak the report or speak on its confidential contents. It was her boss, the state's Director General of Prisons HN Satyanarayana Rao who had spoken on the contents, she said. Later, junior jail officials also appeared in local news channel to run her down, saying she was new and didn't know how things work.
"If conduct rules apply to me, it applies to everyone. You cannot have, show me the face, I will show you the rule," the officer said. She said the government was free to inquire into how the report was leaked but could lay the blame for that at her door.
Mr Satyanarayana Rao, who retires this month-end, has called her allegations "wild and baseless". No special treatment is being given to Sasikala, he told reporters on Thursday. The state's top jail department official also asserted that Sasikala had been put up in an "ordinary open women's barracks on the first floor".
Ms Sasikala, a lifelong companion of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, has been in jail since February. She is serving a four-year jail sentence for corruption.
This isn't the first time that questions have been raised about the jail administration's functioning. When a right to information reply revealed that VK Sasikala was allowed more than her share of visitors, many of them after 5 pm deadline, Mr Satyanarayana Rao had defended the special dispensation, claiming that the rule about visitors is not ironclad - the jailor is allowed to use his discretion.
According to Ms Roopa's report, Sasikala's wasn't the only beneficiary.
Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin of a multi-crore stamp paper fraud that hit the headlines about a decade earlier, was another.
Mr Rao said he did notice some favours enjoyed by Abdul Karim Telgi, jailed over a multi-crore stamp paper fraud. "I have recorded in the books and asked the prison officials to withdraw it," he said.
Ms Roopa's report also refers to a random drug test carried out on 25 inmates. Around 18 prisoners tested positive for cannabis and other drugs.