The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the massive scam of alleged illegal iron ore mining by former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy's company in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, has questioned Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy in connection with the case.
The minister was questioned about her role in the decision to grant a lease to Reddy's Obulapuram Mining Company for mining in Anantapur district when she was the minister for mines and geology between 2004 and 2009.
The questioning at her residence continued till 11 pm on Friday night.
She is the second important figure in the state government to be questioned about the high-profile case of alleged looting of natural resources in the two states.
Earlier, the CBI had questioned senior IAS officer Srilakshmi, who was the secretary, mining department, when the lease was granted to Reddy's company by the YS Rajashekhar Reddy-led state government.
The questioning is being seen as a major move forward by the CBI, which has focussed its attention on the alleged nexus between the OMC and state government officials. The CBI has already seized files and other records of the mining department pertaining to the decision.
This has come at a time when the CBI is in the process of preparing its first charge-sheet against Reddy and his brother-in-law and OMC Managing Director Srinivas Reddy. Both of them are currently under judicial custody in Chanchalguda Jail of Hyderabad.
As part of the probe, the CBI team has also raided Krishnapatnam port in Nellore district that was used for exporting iron ore extracted from the OMC's mines in Bellary in Karnataka and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh.
The CBI suspects that the nexus between the OMC and the officials of various departments of Andhra Pradesh government as well as the Krishnapatanam port has resulted in the loss of thousands of crores to both the state governments.