The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the illegal iron ore mining case against former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy and others is yet to trace the whereabouts of the latter's personal secretary, Mehfuz Ali Khan, a crucial witness in the case.

Mr. Khan has gone either into ‘hiding' or missing since September 5, when Mr. Janardhan Reddy and his kin B.V. Srinivasa Reddy, managing director of Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), were arrested by CBI.

A lap top computer containing vital information about OMC's business transactions was reportedly in Mr. Khan's possession when he went missing.

Agony for family

He may be just one of the key witnesses in the case for CBI, but for his family it has been an untold agony for over five months now.

His family, particularly his wife, needs him with her now as she is expecting a baby very soon, sources close to Mr. Khan's family in Bellary told The Hindu .

In spite of keeping a watch on his house in Inna Reddy Colony locality in Bellary and deploying a couple of teams in neighbouring districts, the CBI has failed to gather information that would lead it to the ‘fugitive' so far.

Hailing from a middle class of Guntakal in Anantapur district, Mr. Khan joined Mr. Reddy about five years back when the latter's iron ore business was at its peak. An engineer by qualification, Mr. Khan was introduced to Mr. Reddy by his classmate T.H. Suresh Babu, sitting BJP legislator from Kampli and who studied engineering course along with Mr. Khan in Bellary.

After completing few critical tasks given by Mr. Reddy successfully Mr. Khan was elevated as his personal secretary.

De-facto Minister

“He was part of the mining baron's confidential team that handled all his business and political interests. In fact, he was a de-facto Minister when Mr. Reddy was in power,” an intelligence source stated.

Mr. Khan married a doctor working with a government hospital at Thoranagal near Hospet. Whether CBI succeeds in catching Mr. Khan or not before the February 25 deadline for filing the charge-sheet in the Supreme Court, his absence is badly felt by his family.