CHENNAI: It was an innocuous phone call from Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao to his “friend” J. Sekhar Reddy on the day the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was laid to rest that gave a vital clue to I-T investigators.
“The call was made by Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao to the mobile phone of Sekhar Reddy, the PWD sand contractor who was then also a TTD board member. Though the Chief Secretary was busy overseeing arrangements for the funeral of Jayalalithaa, the two were talking about safekeeping of the cash held by Sekhar Reddy,” an income-tax officer told this newspaper on Wednesday.
The income-tax officials were monitoring Sekhar Reddy’s phone when they came across his conversation with the Chief Secretary. “Afterwards it was easy to trace the links,” the officer noted.
Later, the income tax officials traced Sekhar Reddy, who is known as ‘Isuka’ (sand in Telugu) Sekhar in sand mining circles. The highly influential person in bureaucratic and political circles was then raided leading to a sizeable seizure of cash and gold. Sekhar Reddy was a trusted man of the Chief Secretary and his vehicle was given a special pass to enter Tamil Nadu secretariat.
Apart from chief secretary, many IAS officials and ministers were in regular touch with Sekhar Reddy, who generously distributed Tirupati prasadam to his well-wishers at Fort St George. Sekhar Reddy, 47, hails from Thondan Thualsi village near Katpadi in Vellore district.
Rao’s relative raided in Chittoor
As part of the investigation into the properties of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P. Rama Mohan Rao, two teams of income-tax officers raided the house of his son’s father-in-law D.K. Badri Narayana at Lakshmi Nagar Colony in Chittoor on Wednesday.
Mr Badri Narayana is brother-in-law of late Audikesavulu Naidu, liquor baron, TTD member and former Chittoor MP. Mr Rama Mohana Rao belongs to Kalikivaya Bitragunta in Zarugumalli mandal in Prakasam district.
Villagers said some officials had taken information on his properties in the village three days ago. They said except an old house where his sister Seshamma stays, Mr Rama Mohan Rao’s family did not have any other property in the village.
His father Lakshmi Narayana was a RTC employee and his two brothers Vijay and Srinivasulu and mother Sivaravamma were in Tamil Nadu. Ms Sivaravamma was elected sarpanch of the village unanimously in 2007. Mr Rao donated funds for construction of classrooms in the ZP School at the village.