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Missing Cafe Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha's body found from river

V G Siddhartha
V G Siddhartha
The body of Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder V. G. Siddhartha was found in the Netravathi river near Mangaluru in Karnataka on Wednesday morning, about 36 hours after he went missing on Monday evening.
 
He had last been seen on a bridge on the river near Mangalaru and the police had launched a massive search to trace Siddhartha, who was suspected to have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the river.
 
Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil told journalists this morning that fishermen had found the body around 6.30 am today and informed the police.
 
Senior police officers rushed to the scene and took charge of the body, which was then sent to the Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru for post-mortem examination.
 
Patil said the family of Siddhartha had been informed and his relatives were expected to arrive soon and help in the identification of the body and completion of other formalities.
 
The body will be later handed over to the family, who will decide on the time and place of the last rites, he added.
 
About 200 people, including policemen, Coast Guard personnel, divers and fishermen, had been engaged in the search for the missing coffee tycoon, one of the best-known businessmen of Karnataka.
 
Siddhartha was on his way to Mangaluru from Ullal on Monday evening. Around 6.30 pm, when his car reached the bridge, he told his driver to stop so that he could take a walk for some time. He asked the driver to wait for him at the other end of the bridge.
 
When Siddhartha did not come even after an hour, the driver returned to the spot to look for him. He then informed the businessman's family who, in turn, informed the police.
 
Siddhartha, 60, who was the Chairman and Managing director of Coffee Day Enterprise Limited (CDEL), the holding company of all his companies, is the eldest son-in-law of former External Affairs and former Karnataka Chief Minister S. M. Krishna. Krishna, who had also served as the Governor of Maharashtra for some time, was a senior Congress leader who shifted to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March, 2017.
 
In his complaint to the police, Siddhartha's driver Basavaraj Patil said that the businessman had gone missing after he got out of the car at the bridge and started walking while talking to someone on his mobile phone.
 
"Siddhartha got down from the car on the side of the bridge and asked me to wait for him at the other end, as he wanted to walk for a while. But he did not turn up even after an hour," said the driver in his complaint filed in Kannada.
 
Siddhartha had on March 18 this year sold his entire 20 per cent stake in the city-based software major Mindtree to the Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for Rs 3,300 crore at Rs 980 per share. He wanted to raise funds to reduce his company's mounting debts.
 
"Sir (Siddhartha) and I left in a car from Bengaluru on Monday afternoon for Sakaleshpur near Hassan, where he has a house near one of his coffee estates. On reaching there by evening, he told me to drive to Mangaluru on National Highway 66. When I drove onto the bridge, he asked me to stop the car and got down, saying he would walk and get into the car at the end of the bridge on the other side," the driver recounted.
 
When Siddhartha didn't reach the other side of the bridge, the driver went in search of him but he was nowhere to be found. "I filed the complaint with the local police past midnight on his family's advice, when I told them how Siddhartha suddenly went missing," Patil told the police.
 
The port city of Mangaluru is about 350 km west of Bengaluru.
 
During the day yesterday, a fisherman in the area had claimed that he saw a man jumping off the bridge into the river at the place and time where Siddhartha was seen last.
 
"When I heard a thud-like sound in the river, I turned and saw the same man in the water struggling to float but drowned by the time I could reach the spot. As the current was strong, I could not find him in the fast-moving water, as the river is almost full and deep," the fisherman told the police.
 
Siddhartha had left Bengaluru on Monday afternoon for Sakleshpur near Hassan where he has a house and one of his coffee estates. As it was on the way to Mangaluru, he told Patil to drive towards Mangaluru after a short break at Sakleshpur to freshen up.
 
In a letter to the Coffee Day Board of Directors and employees, dated July 27, Siddhartha spoke about pressure from one of the company's private equity partners, who was forcing him to buy backshares, as well as from other lenders. He also wrote about a "lot of harassment from the previous Director General of Income Tax".
 
In a letter to the Coffee Day Board of Directors and employees, dated July 27, Siddhartha spoke about pressure from one of the company's private equity partners, who was forcing him to buy backshares, as well as from other lenders. He also wrote about a "lot of harassment from the previous Director General of Income Tax".
 
"I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts.
 
"I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me. I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation. There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking possession of our Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch," he said.
 
"I have enclosed a list of our assets and tentative value of each asset. As seen below our assets outweigh our liabilities and can help repay everybody," he added.
 
NNN

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