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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 915

Illegal mining scam: Karnataka CM in soup after indictment

From R. Vasudevan - Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, 22 July (Asiantribune.com):

In a strong indictment of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, state Lokayukta Justice Santosh N Hegde has said he has given "substantive" and "voluminous" evidence against him in the illegal mining scam which has cost the state an exchequer Rs1800 crore over a period of 14 months.

Terming the illegal mining scam as a "huge racket", Hegde said, "In the time period of 14 months, it is more than Rs1800 crore. The time period is between March 2009 to May 2010. It is loss to the state exchequer".

Meanwhile, Hegde has probing the illegal mining in the state, has claimed his phone has been tapped. Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge, said that after reports of alleged bugging in the office of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, he had asked a professional to carry out a check in his office.

"(The professional) told me your telephone has been tapped. Every thing was being recorded from two sources," he said. Hegde said he does not want to comment on "where, who and other things" regarding the tapping but is sure it's been tapped.

Telephone tapping was noticed in the past three-four months, Hegde said. "Yes, I can say in affirmative that I suspect......the person told me this is being tapped and recorded in two places," he said.

Talking to a TV channel, Hegde said Chief Minister Yeddyurappa's son's trust got Rs 10 crores from a mining company.

In a major setback to Yeddyurappa, the Karnataka high court on Thursday allowed police to question him and his kin on corruption charges and illegal land deal cases.

Justice KN Keshavanarayana cancelled the stay he had ordered on the trial court proceedings in the five cases filed against Yeddyurappa, his two sons, son-in-law and others. The court ruling spells further trouble for Yeddyurappa, who is abroad at present, with the Lok Ayukta also naming him as amongst those involved in illegal mining in the state.

The judge had granted the stay in March on a petition by Yeddyurappa's son-in-law R Sohan Kumar challenging the trial court ordering police to probe five complaints against the chief minister, his kin and others.

The five complaints were filed in January by two Bangalore advocates Sirajin Bhasha and KN Balaraj after governor HR Bhardwaj granted them permission to file criminal cases against Yeddyurappa and others on charges of corruption and illegal land deals.

Besides Yeddyurappa, the advocates have named his two sons, BY Raghavendra and BY Vijayendra, son-in-law Sohan Kumar and several others in their complaints.

Raghavendra is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha member. Congress demands CM must go, BJP rejects it.

The ruling BJP in Karnataka on Thursday rejected opposition parties demand for resignation of Karnataka Chief Minister in the wake of a Lok Ayukta report indicting him on illegal mining, claiming that BS Yeddyurappa had no "direct nexus" with mining activity. "No, not at all," BJP spokesperson V Dhananjaya Kumar commented when asked if the CM would quit as demanded by the Congress.

According to him, Congress had recently rejected a Delhi Lok Ayukta report indicting Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and "so is the case with Lok Ayukta of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh".

"Congress party in power in all these states has consistently rejected the report submitted by respective Lokayuktas. There cannot be two yardsticks -- one for the Congress and one for BJP", Kumar said. He claimed that Karnataka Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde is on record saying the chief minister had no direct nexus with mining activity. "Whatever has come out (leaked report), does not contain any new revelations".

Hegde had made comments that the CM’s sons sold property at an exorbitant price to a mine owner and also that some of the mining companies had given donations to a trust in which they were trustees, Kumar claimed, adding, the Lok Ayukta has not pointed out "any extra benefit given to these mine owners by the government".

- Asian Tribune -

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