Fifteen years ago, Sekhar Reddy of Thondan Thulasi village near Katpadi started his career as a small-time contractor in Vellore.
Today, Reddy’s business has spread wings, with sand mining being a major source of income. He operates a majority of the government-run sand quarries in Vellore and neighbouring districts, and recently launched a chain of restaurants in the city.
The raids on Reddy’s houses and offices on Thursday and Friday, during which sleuths attached to Income Tax department and CBI seized more than Rs. 130 crore in cash and 177 kg of gold bars in Chennai and Vellore is a small portion of his ill-gotten wealth, said sources in AIADMK. Among this money is Rs. 34 crore in new currency.
He started as a small contractor, taking job works for Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 to lay roads and for other government projects. After establishing contact with a member of the Railway Employees Union, he managed to get contracts in railways for a few lakhs of rupees. From there on, there was no turning back.
Though Reddy frequently switched loyalties from one political party to another based on the prevailing scenario, he maintained good contact with senior leaders of both AIADMK and DMK. “He joined MDMK from DMK 15 years ago. After a few years, he switched to AIADMK. But, he enjoyed political clout in both the parties.
He built and maintained contacts with senior officials in the government and won their confidence by meeting their needs,” said a source in AIADMK. He was, in fact, nominated to be one of the TTD Board Trustees by AIADMK Government.
Reddy was trusted ‘aide’ and ‘conduit’ for many influential persons in the government and helped them in transactions and investments of their money. He, however, operated from behind-the-scene. “In return, he got major government projects,” said the source. Several ministers and IAS officers attended the funeral of Reddy’s mother six months ago. “It clearly established his links with ministers and top-level bureaucrats,” said a source.
After AIADMK assumed charge of the government after the 2011 assembly election, he got all sand quarry contracts in Vellore and Kancheepuram districts. With strong political backing, he unleashed his money and muscle power to silence villagers, who opposed the quarrying. Revenue officers too remained mute spectators to the illegal mining.
Reddy’s properties begins in Yelagiri Hills in Vellore district and spreads across several places in Andhra Pradesh, said sources.