Mining baron Janardhana Reddy arrested, jailed

September 5th, 2011 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Hyderabad, Sep 5 (IANS) Former Karnataka minister and mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy and his relative B. Srinivasa Reddy were sent to a jail here Monday evening after a special court remanded them to 14 days judicial custody in an illegal mining case in Andhra Pradesh.

On a day of fast paced developments, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) early Monday arrested Janardhana Reddy, a director of Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) and Srinivasa Reddy, the managing director of OMC, at Bellary in Karnataka and shifted them to Hyderabad amid tight security.

The duo were produced before a CBI court, which remanded them to judicial custody till Sep 19. They were later shifted to Chanchalguda Central Jail.

The court adjourned to Sep 7 the hearing on the CBI’s petition seeking custody of the accused for 15 days.

Janardhana Reddy’s counsel Raghavachary, during the arguments, alleged that there was a political conspiracy behind the arrest. The counsel also termed the arrest “illegal” as Janardhana Reddy’s name is not included in CBI’s FIR as an accused.

It was also submitted that Janardhana Reddy has nothing to do with the day-to-day functioning of OMC. The judge, however, asked the counsel to file a counter to the CBI’s petition by Wednesday.

The CBI counsel sought the judicial custody of the accused saying they could tamper with the evidence.

Earlier, while being shifted from the CBI office to the court complex, Janardhana Reddy told reporters that he is innocent. “The truth always prevails,” he said.

Janardhana Reddy, a lawmaker in Karnataka, and Srinivasa Reddy were arrested in a case registered against them in 2009 for illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district, bordering Karnataka.

“A CBI team from Hyderabad arrested Janaradhana Reddy after raiding his residence and took him to Hyderabad in their vehicle for interrogation in connection with the case registered against his mining company,” a senior police officer of Bellary told IANS.

The 10-member CBI team led by its joint director V.V. Lakshminarayana left Hyderabad late Sunday armed with an arrest warrant from the special court. They began searching Janardhana Reddy’s palatial bungalow ‘Kuteera’ in Bellary, around 390 km from Hyderabad, and arrested him and Srinivasa Reddy around 6.30 a.m.

The duo were whisked away to Hyderabad at 8 a.m.

The CBI seized Rs.3 crore in cash and more than 30 kg of gold from the house. It also found several incriminating documents during the searches.

The agency simultaneously started searching the residence of Janardhana Reddy in Bangalore for documents and other records pertaining to his mining business.

According to a CBI statement in New Delhi, more than Rs.1.5 crore cash and several incriminating documents were found at the premises of Srinivasa Reddy.

Lakshminarayana told reporters that the duo were held on the basis of evidence gathered by the agency.

“We will interrogate and collect more evidence,” he said, to queries if the CBI would arrest more accused.

On Dec 7, 2009, the CBI had registered a case under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Indian Forest Act, and the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, against the alleged illegal mining by OMC and others.

The CBI said it had so far collected around 1,530 documents and 112 iron ore samples and examined around 85 witnesses/suspects.

The “firebrand” Janardhana Reddy was infrastructure development and tourism minister for 38 months from May 2008 to July 2011 in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first government in Karnataka. Headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa, it also had his brother G. Karunakara Reddy as revenue minister.

The Reddy brothers were recently indicted by the Karnataka Lokayukta (ombudsman) for their alleged role in the multi-crore mining scam in the state, and their prosecution recommended.

Yeddyurappa resigned July 31 after he too was named in the mining scam probe report.

Karnataka lawmaker and state-run Karnataka Milk Federation chairman G. Somashekara is the youngest of the Reddy brothers, who shot into fame a decade ago for actively supporting then BJP candidate Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 mid-term parliamentary election from Bellary against Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who took over as Karnataka chief minister from Yeddyurappa, and the BJP leadership have been resisting pressures to induct the Reddy brothers in the new ministry.

Hailing from Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, the Reddy brothers made their fortunes in Karnataka’s iron ore rich district of Bellary.

The Reddys, who were small businessmen, became billionaires after entering into mining 10 years ago.

Interestingly, the arrests come at a time when the CBI is probing the alleged illegal assets of MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. Janardhana Reddy was close to the former chief minister and his son.

Both Andhra’s ruling Congress and opposition Telugu Desam Party hailed Janardhana Reddy’s arrest and demanded probe against Jaganmohan Reddy for his links with mining baron.

However, Jaganmohan Reddy denied any links with former Karnataka minister.

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