Three mine owners, on whose plea the Supreme Court recently stayed mining operations of a company owned by the powerful Reddy brothers--who are Karnataka ministers, were attacked on Monday by an eight-member gang in Bellary.
The unidentified men attacked Tappal Ganesh and two of his brothers, owners of the TNR mining company, when they were waiting outside a hotel to meet the Survey of India team set up by the apex court to determine whether reserved forest areas have been encroached by the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC)in Andhra Pradesh.
The OMC is owned by G Janardhana Reddy.
The Reddy brothers -- Janardhana and Karunakara -- are Karnataka Ministers and mining magnates. The assailants, who came in a car and were armed with sticks, also beat up four journalists present there before fleeing the scene, police said.
The Reddy brothers rejected charges that they were behind the incident while Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa directed the police to take action against those involved. "Such charges were being hurled against us since four years. We are not involved in the attack", Karunakara Reddy told PTI.
"Let there be a survey of the mining areas from an international body. We are not afraid of it. The on-going survey by the Supreme Court appointed Survey of India team is going on smoothly," he added.
Yeddyurappa said, "I am yet to get details about the incident. Law will take its own course. Will ask police to initiate action against those involved."
He dismissed a suggestion that there was no law and order in Bellary, remarking, "I don't think so. I have visited it seveal times."
The five-member Survey of India team, which has been camping in Bellary, was holding discussions with forest and mines and geology department officials in the private hotel and the three representatives of TNR mining company, including Ganesh, were there to meet the team.
Police rushed to the spot and shifted the injured mine owners to a hospital. The incident triggered panic in the city. Police said they were investigating the incident.