‘Siddhartha suffered harassment by I-T sleuths’

‘Siddhartha suffered harassment by I-T sleuths’

Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil monitors the search operation near the Nethravathi bridge on the outskirts of Mangaluru city from where coffee czar V G Siddhartha went missing.

Sringeri MLA Raje Gowda said coffee czar V G Siddhartha suffered from the harassment meted out by the officials of the Income Tax Department.

Raje Gowda spoke to DH during the search operation at Nethravathi bridge on Tuesday.

The legislator, a close friend of Siddhartha, said the latter had become mentally weak after the raids conducted by Income Tax department.

“He was my well-wisher. I had a good rapport with him. He was a disciplined man and was known for his patience,” said the MLA.

‘No prejudice’

“In spite of being rich, he was known for his simple living and frugal lifestyle. He never had any prejudice and used to interact freely with villagers. He should not have undergone such a situation,” Raje Gowda stressed.

“Siddhartha had given employment to thousands of people across the country. Is it not a service to the country? Are the Income Tax Department people military dictators? The officials do not stop their harassment even after people promptly pay tax,” Gowda expressed his displeasure.

Elected representatives, planters and politicians from Chikkamagaluru disrict had made a beeline to the Nethravathi bridge on learning that Siddhartha had gone missing on Tuesday.

96-year-old father in ICU

Mudigere Planters’ Association President B R Balakrishna and Secretary K D Manohar said Siddhartha’s 96 year-old father S N Gangaiah Hegde, who had been injured in a fall, was admitted in the ICU ward of a hospital in Mysuru.

Former president of the Federation of Coffee Growers’ Association Jayaram said Siddhartha had single-handedly increased the consumption of coffee from 25,000 tonnes to over one lakh tonnes annually.

Former president of Mudigere Taluk Panchayat Chandre Gowda said that they were still hopeful as Siddhartha was not a person who would end his life by committing suicide. Chandre Gowda had visited Siddhartha’s house Chattanahalli before rushing to Mangaluru.

Initially, cops had restricted the movement of traffic on the bridge leading towards Mangaluru in order to facilitate the monitoring of search operations. After the restriction was eased, traffic on the bridges moved at a snail’s pace throughout the day.

The curiosity of drivers on witnessing a huge crowd on the bridge had resulted in a bumper-to-bumper movement of vehicles on the bridges.

In order to discourage the public from crowding at the bridges, the traffic police begun towing away two-wheelers and cars parked on the bridge.

CCTV cameras at bridges

A fisherman Simon D’Souza, who was fishing near the sixth pier, claimed to have seen a man jump into the river from the bridge at 7.30 pm on Monday. A group of fishermen relaxing at the base of the bridge’s piers, however, said they had not seen anyone jump into the river.

Fisherman Nanda said, as many people commit suicide by jumping from the bridge, police should install CCTV cameras near the bridges.