Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s body recovered 9 km from Nethravathi bridge

VG Siddhartha, who is also the son-in-law of former Union Minister SM Krishna, had gone missing near the Nethravathi river in Mangaluru on Monday night.
Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s body recovered 9 km from Nethravathi bridge
Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s body recovered 9 km from Nethravathi bridge
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Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha’s body was recovered at 6.30am on Wednesday morning, after he went missing in Mangaluru on Monday. A massive team of 100 firefighters, 100 policemen, 50 divers, 50 fishermen and 30 boats were involved in the search operations. His body is being taken to Wenlock Hospital for post-mortem.

Siddhartha, who is the son-in-law of former Union Minister and BJP leader SM Krishna, had gone missing in Mangaluru on Monday night near the Nethravathi river. According to the city police, the body was found on the bank of a river close to an ice plant at Hoige Bazar, over 9kms away from the Nethravathi bridge. 

A fisherman named Ritesh on a trawler boat found the body when he cast his net into the waters. Since the police had informed fishermen to keep an eye out, Ritesh suspected that the body could have been Siddhartha's and immediately informed a local resident (Ashwath), who subsequently intimated the local corporator Diwakar Pandeshwar and then the trio informed the local police. 

Based on the dress description, shoes, the police said they were able to identify the deceased. "The facial features of the victim were still identifiable. It helped us to identify him," a police official said. Congress MLA UT Khader told the media that his friends had helped identify the body. 

According to police sources, Siddhartha left Bengaluru after intimating his family that he was going to Sakleshpur in Hassan district. However, after leaving home, he allegedly told his driver to head towards Mangaluru. When they reached the Nethravati bridge, he was apparently on a call and informed his driver that he's taking a walk and would be back. However, over an hour after he left, his driver got worried when he didn’t see him and called his cellphone multiple times but it was switched off. Following this, his driver informed Siddhartha’s family and the police. 

A tip-off from a local fisherman, who saw someone falling from a bridge on Monday evening, helped officials narrow down the search for the body. The fisherman, Symond D’Souza told the media that he tried to help the man who fell, but couldn’t due to heavy rain.

“I am here at Ullala. My house is near the railway bridge. At around 5:30 pm (on Monday), I took my fishing net and was returning home. On my way back, I saw a man jumping off the bridge. I don’t know who this man was. I was rushing towards him. But he had reached the deep waters by then,” he said.

A letter written by Siddhartha before he went missing had also surfaced on Tuesday. Dated July 27, the letter was addressed to the CCD Board of Directors and to the employees.   

The letter states that he “failed as an entrepreneur” and that he is “solely responsible for all mistakes. It goes on to detail that he was under tremendous pressure from a private equity partner and from lenders. The letter purportedly signed by Siddhartha also alleges harassment from a former DG Income Tax. “After 37 years, with strong commitment to hard work, having directly created 30,000 jobs in our companies and their subsidiaries, as well as another 20,000 jobs in technology company where I have been a large shareholder since its founding, I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts,” it says.

The Income Tax Department, however, came out with a statement noting that the signature in the letter does not tally with Siddhartha’s signature in his annual reports.  

Siddhartha was the son of a coffee estate owner and began Café Coffee Day in 1996. Since then, the chain has expanded with 1550 outlets in several international locations. According to a Forbes report, VG Siddhartha is worth more than 1.15 billion dollars and had shares in tech company Mindtree until March 2019 when he sold them to L&T. He also has shares in a few companies in the hospitality sector.

(With inputs from {Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP])

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