Amma Forever: Jayalalithaa dead, Tamil Nadu on edge, shockwaves across India. The Apollo Hospital in its statement said, "It in with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11:30 PM today, 5-12-2016."
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK's undisputed leader Jayaraman Jayalalitha passed away in Chennai's Apollo Hospital late on Monday night. She was 68. Jayalalithaa was declared dead at 11:30 PM.
The Apollo Hospital in its statement said, "It in with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our estemeed honourable chief minister of Tamil Nadu Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11:30 PM today, 5-12-2016."
After a day of emotional roller-coaster for her millions of followers, the doctors declared her dead of the cardiac arrest she had suffered late on Sunday evening. Her death was announced prematurely by Jaya TV, her party's television wing, which spread like wildfire as soon as AIADMK workers lowered the flag at the party headquarters to half-mast.
Tempers ran high as her supporters began clashing with police on the road leading to the hospital. This was swiftly rejected as rumour by the Apollo Hospital, claiming she was 'very critical' but under observation.
Jayalalitha or Amma as she was fondly called was admitted to the Apollo Hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever. Her condition had deteriorated quickly and she was put on respiratory support. Her lungs were severely compromised because of pneumonia.
An expert team of doctors from Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences and later renowned doctor from London, Robert Beale, were brought in treat her. Almost 20 days later, the hospital said that Jayalalithaa would not be able to resume her official duties soon enough.
Governor Vidyasagar Rao asked O. Pannerselvam, Jayalalithaa's trusted aide and chief minister when she couldn't officiate, was given the eight portfolios Jayalalithaa handled as chief minister. But she remained the chief minister.
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A long period of near-silence kept the state and her party guessing what was happening on her health front. In rare medical bulletins coming out of the hospital, doctors claimed she was responding well to the treatment and recovering in a room. The hospital said she was no longer in the intensive care unit.
Then on December 4, a release said she had recovered fully and would be home in a few days. The team of doctors from AIIMS Delhi returned to Delhi. But wishing five hours of that press release, news came that Jayalalithaa had suffered a cardiac arrest and was back in the ICU.
Thousands of AIADMK supporters thronged the hospital and kept a vigil. The crowds grew as they were worried about Amma's health. By evening, the numbers had multiplied and Chennai Police had to enforce a virtual lockdown in parts of the city. Roads around the hospital were declared no-go zones the night before. The report of her death led to a fear of violence. The retraction by the hospital saved the evening.
By late night, AIADMK leaders and supporters were preparing for the inevitable.