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Why Naidu spared in OMC case, asks Jagan
Kadapa MP and YSR Congress president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Friday spent over two hours with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials at the latter’s office as they recorded his statement in the illegal iron ore mining case framed against former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy.
Tension prevailed in the vicinity of the CBI office at the busy Koti area in the morning with supporters of Jagan, who had gathered in large numbers, raising anti-government slogans.
Emerging out of the office, Jagan, however, went offensive against the investigative agency for not having questioned former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in a similar manner under whose tenure the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) of Janardhan Reddy got its first iron ore mining lease in 2002.
While showing a copy of the said government order (GO) issued in 2002 to the waiting media, he said: “Mining lease over 64 acres was first issued to one Rammohan Reddy in 1996 and the same was transferred to OMC in 2002 — both during Naidu’s tenure as chief minister. This shows that he favoured OMC. I gave this copy to the CBI and asked them why they did not summon Naidu. I also requested the officials to summon Naidu to know the extent of his involvement.”
As he was asked to give his statement under Section 160 (1) of Criminal Procedure Code after one-and-a-half years into investigation, it is proved beyond any doubt that he was just regarded as a witness and not an accused in any manner, Jagan told reporters while criticising a section of media for dubbing him as an accused in the case.
Jagan’s turn came after CBI recorded similar statements from state home minister Sabitha Indra Reddy, who previously held the mining portfolio, and a couple of bureaucrats, who headed the mining department when YS Rajasekhara Reddy was chief minister.
According to reports, CBI thinks there is a link to establish quid pro quo between Janardhan Reddy and YSR’s son based on an agreement entered by OMC with Red Gold, allegedly floated by Jagan, under which half of the ore extracted from the new lease area granted by the YSR government was to be given at a discount to the second company in exchange for providing technical support. However, Jagan denied these allegations.
The OMC, along with Bellary Iron Ore Mining Company and Mahabaleshwarappa Iron Ore company, had got mining leases in 25.981 hectares, 27.120 hectares and 20.240 hectares respectively in Anantapur district bordering Karnataka during Naidu’s tenure.
Again in 2007, the YSR government had granted two more mining leases to OMC — one in 35.481 hectare and the other in 68.5 hectare — in the same district apart from a small area lease to Associated Mining Company, which also belongs to Janardhan Reddy.
The issue first started when a neighbouring company approached courts against OMC alleging encroachment by it into its lease area. This then turned into a political minefield as the opposition parties alleged illegal mining by Janardhan Reddy’s company in adjoining forest areas.
The episode then took one more turn when the YSR government with orders (GO 151) in favour of OMC for granting lease in 68.5 hectares for ‘captive purpose’, which was not mentioned in the orders. K Rosaiah, who took over as chief minister following the sudden death of YSR, requested the Centre for a CBI probe, leading to Janardhan Reddy’s arrest on August 5.
The CBI has been arguing in the special court that these mining leases were used only as an alibi to export high grade iron ore illegally mined in the Bellary area.
For the AP part, the investigative agency is preparing to file a chargesheet against Gali Janardhan Reddy and other accused by December 9, as the mandatory 90-day period beginning with the arrest of Reddy ends by that time.
Meanwhile, it will continue to pursue the fresh case filed against Janardhan Reddy in Karnataka following the Supreme Court’s directive in that state.