Mining baron Reddy completes two years in jail

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Bangalore, Sep 4:Gali Janardhana Reddy, who rode to riches on booming iron ore exports in the last decade and virtually lorded over the BJP in Karnataka for over five years, completes two years behind bars Sep 5 on charges of illegal mining.

The former Karnataka minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party has spent most of the two years in Hyderabad’s Chanchalaguda Central Jail. Of and on, he has been in Bangalore’s main prison at Parappana Agrahara in the eastern part of the city.

The 46-year-old Reddy, one of three sons of an Andhra Pradesh police constable, is fighting cases of illegal mining of iron and its export from both Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. His pleas for bail have been rejected many times by courts in both states.

One of his brothers, Gali Somashekara, a former BJP legislator, also spent some time in jail as he is an accused in what came to be known as the cash-for-bail deal last year.

Another brother, Gali Karunakara, has so far not been snared in illegal mining and cash-for-bail scams. He lost the May 5 assembly election.

Somashekara did not contest the assembly polls, claiming that getting Janardhana out of jail was more important to him.

Janardhana was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation Sep 5, 2011, from his palatial home in Bellary, about 300 km from Bangalore on the Karnataka-Andhra border, and was lodged in Hyderabad’s Chanchalaguda jail over an illegal mining case in that state.

Though hailing from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the Reddy brothers made Bellary, the iron-ore rich district of Karnataka on the border of the two states, their home.

Janardhana and his wife Laskhmi Aruna own the Obulapuram Mining Company which operated in Andhra Pradesh. They also own Associated Mining Company which operated in Karnataka.

Lakshmi Aruna is also an accused in the Karnataka case, but has not been arrested.

As he spent time in the two jails, Janardhana also saw the decline of fortunes of the brothers’ close associate and former BJP minister B. Sriramulu, who quit the BJP and floated a party which fared miserably in the May 5 assembly elections, winning just four seats in the 225-member house that includes one nominated member.

Sriramulu also faced the heat over the cash-for-bail deal. He has been interrogated by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau, but not arrested.

The Reddy brothers joined the BJP just ahead of the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

They became close to the party’s fiery leader Sushma Swaraj as she took on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who contested from Bellary also, besides family stronghold Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Sushma Swaraj has since distanced herself from the Bellary brothers, who used to call her ‘thayi’ (mother).

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