Interestingly, although the I-T officials raided the apartment of Minister Janardhana Reddy in Bangalore, they did not step into the bungalows of the Reddy brothers and Health Minister Sriramulu in Bellary. Heaps of documents have been seized from the offices of the Reddys as well as the members of their coterie.
The I-T sleuths raided the office of K Raghavacharyulu, the legal adviser to the Reddys, and Muthaiah, Bellary ZP CEO, who the Opposition parties allege is a supporters of illegal mining. The offices of Swastik Nagaraj and Kharapudi Mahesh, engaged in transport of ore and are close to the Reddys, were also raided by the I-T officers.
Here is a glance at some of the members of the Reddys’ mining ring:
B Nagendra, MLA, Kudligi: A first time MLA, he has a place in the charmed circle around the Reddys. A mine owner himself, Nagendra entered politics because of his close proximity to Sriramulu, his relative. He was in the Congress as long as Sriramulu and followed his mentor into the BJP.
Suresh Babu, MLA, Kampli: It is rare to see Janardhana Reddy without Suresh Babu next to him. Nephew of Sriramulu, Babu is a engineering graduate. He was the youngest MLA in the Assembly till Priya Krishna won in the by-election.
K Raghavacharyulu: He is a regular fixture at press conferences addressed by Janardhana Reddy in Bangalore. A native of Hyderabad, the advocate began handling all the major cases of the Reddys from 2006. He is in the legal profession for the last 26 years and handles legal matters pertaining to NMDC.
He says that the I-T officials were cordial when they checked the documents in his apartment-cum-office next to Le Meridien in Bangalore. He wonders why the I-T officers targeted an advocate when it is the chartered accountants who handle financial matters.
Ali Khan and Madhu: Both aged around 30, are members of Janardhana Reddy’s inner coterie. Khan, an engineering graduate, is a personal secretary to Reddy and looks after the operations of his private helicopters. Khan and Prasad also look after financial transactions of Janardhana Reddy. They were introduced to the Reddys by Suresh Babu.
Khan and Babu were classmates when they were engineering students. IT investigators raided residences of all the three.
Swasthik Nagaraj - Kharadapudi Mahesh: Both are popular in Bellary as ‘risk transporters’. They take the risk of transporting iron ore extracted illegally. Mahesh became ‘Kharadapudi Mahesh’ as he once owned a chilli crushing machine in Bellary. They collect Rs 200 per tonne of iron ore they transport. The duo are said to have earned crores of rupees in the last couple of years.
Nagaraj, ex-member of Bellary CMC, reportedly issues to his drivers unique cards with a ‘swastik’ symbol on it. Officers at checkposts are known to let drivers possessing the cards go without checking the vehicles. Names of Nagaraj and Mahesh are widely heard after the seized iron ore went missing from Belekeri port.