An eerie silence envelopes the ‘Great Wall of Bellary’ — an arched wall that encircles the maze of bungalows of mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy. Its jailed owner, confiscated choppers and missing government paraphernalia — all mark a crumbling power structure.
The Kutir, as Reddy named his mansion, is no longer the mecca for favour seekers, even though before Reddy’s arrest, all roads in Siruguppa led to it. The security arrangements for the VIP were an irritant for neighbours.
But speculation is rife in the small mining town. Will there be a return of the dragon?
Reddy's admirers maintain he will be free to work his magic again. The police and the officialdom choose to differ. And they take on tasks they would not have dared to a few months ago.
Instead of dancing attendance on the Bellary brothers, Karunakara, Gali Janardhan and Somasekhar and their friend and aide B Sreeramulu, they now “stick to rules”. “We are trying to help a junior employee of the state to get back land grabbed by Janardhan,” said district magistrate Amlan Aditya Biswas.
Reddy had erected a 150-acre township in Bellary, for which plots of many were confiscated.
In Ramanagaram near Bangalore, where the cult classic Sholay was shot, mining permits were given by junior forest officials instead of the divisional forest officer. The miners had the blessings of Reddy. When a complaint was filed three years ago, nothing happened.
The previous DM was apparently sitting on it for more than two years. When all of it came to light, Biswas investigated the matter and recommended the cancellation of all mining licenses in the area. “Cases against Reddy are watertight and the evidence is strong. The Central Bureau of Investigation is convinced of securing his conviction,” said a senior official.
The mining community, though, still hopes Reddy would be released. “The charges against him are patently false,” said a confident Sriramulu.
District Congress leader Pratap Reddy does not share his optimism. “Cases against Reddy are strong,” he said. “The political empire built on mining money will crumble soon.”