`Nobody is above the law, and officials are only doing their duty'
`D.K. Shivakumar owns eight mining companies in Bellary' `False information given to High Court by advocates'
BANGALORE: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said on Thursday that the seizure of a huge quantity of iron ore estimated at Rs. 28 crore at Sandur on Tuesday was only the beginning of the action being taken by the Government to prevent illegal mining in the iron-ore rich Bellary district.
He did not give a direct reply to a question on whether the former Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar and several members of his family would be arrested in connection with the case. "I am here to only state that there is no political vendetta as made out by some Congress leaders.
Nobody is above the law, and it is the foremost duty of the officials concerned to take action against any unlawful activity within their jurisdiction.
The matter pertaining to illegal mining in Bellary district has been under investigation for nearly three months, and the culprits are now being booked."
Mr. Kumaraswamy told presspersons that the Government had issued strict instructions to officials in the departments of Forest, Mines and Geology, and Revenue and the police to take action against illegal and unauthorised iron ore mines in the State.
The instructions of the Government had a bearing on the repeated submission of memoranda by Congress leaders to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, he said.
With reference to incidents of violence on Thursday in several parts of Bangalore Rural district, including Kanakapura, which is the hometown of Mr. Shivakumar, and at Mandya and Channapatna, the Chief Minister said the police had been directed to take stern action against the culprits and ensure the maintenance of law and order.
"The violence is an indication of the Congress culture. It is for the Congress leaders to decide whether to safeguard the interests of the State or that of Mr. Shivakumar and his family members," he said.
Cases against women
The Chief Minister said the officials had been directed to investigate and take action even against his (Chief Minister's) family members too should there be a prima facie case relating to any kind of illegal mining operations.
"The Congress has been making a string of allegations against women of my family and even published their names in newspapers. Today, when the authorities have booked cases against some women, they have demanded that action should not be taken."
Mr. Kumaraswamy produced documents to show that Mr. Shivakumar was the owner of eight iron-ore companies: Victory Exports, Indian Rocks, Vallish, Suvi Granites, Skanda Enterprises, Sai Trading Company, Net Project Solution and S. Pradeep Exports, and how, in the name of iron-ore waste, they had obtained quality iron ore for export from Mysore Minerals Ltd., which was a State Government undertaking.
This trading had been on since the time Mr. Shivakumar was the Urban Development Minister in the S.M. Krishna government.
While other companies were given iron ore fines and iron ore mud at Rs. 1,200 a tonne, the companies of Mr. Shivakumar were given the same at Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 a tonne, Mr. Kumaraswamy said.
The Chief Minister referred to a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court filed by one of the companies wherein the advocates had submitted "false and misleading information".
"It is sad that even the advocates dance to his tune. They should understand that they cannot hoodwink the High Court." The State Government is the respondent in this case.