Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha goes missing

V G Siddhartha

Cafe Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha, who went missing on Monday night, is suspected to have committed suicide by jumping into the Netravathi river on NH 66 in Jeppinamogaru near Mangaluru.

A massive multi-agency search operation is on to trace Siddhartha, who is the son-in-law of former chief minister S M Krishna. Despite a search by 12 boats, including the Indian Coast Guard’s hovercraft, there was no clue of the missing businessman, who is neck-deep in debt.


U T Khader MLA and officials on the bridge, where Siddhartha went missing

Mangaluru police commissioner Sandeep Patil said Siddhartha had left Bengaluru intending to travel to Sakleshpur on Monday afternoon.

But on the way, he changed his mind and asked his driver Basavaraj Patil to drive towards Mangaluru.

On reaching the Netravathi bridge around 6 pm, he alighted from the car and instructed his driver to drive ahead and stop the vehicle at the Mangaluru end of the bridge.

When Siddhartha failed to return even after 9 pm, the driver first informed Siddhartha’s eldest son Amartya Hegde and later approached the police.

Quoting the car driver, the police sources said Siddhartha, throughout the journey, kept saying, “I am sorry” over the phone.


The letter Siddhartha purportedly wrote to
CCD board members and employees

 

Police sources said Siddhartha had made his last phone call to the chief finance officer of Cafe Coffee Day Javed and had discussed at length the financial condition of the firm. 

Soon after the driver’s complaint, senior police officers rushed to the spot. A dog squad which was pressed into service, stopped at the bridge’s eighth pier. Since Tuesday morning, eight boats, fire personnel, a battalion from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), divers from the Navy in Karwar and a 10-member team from Home Guards were involved in the search operation, Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner Sashikanth Senthil S and DCP (law and order) Hanumantharaya said.

Coast Guard Karnataka commander S S Dasila said that four assets of the Coast Guard were deployed for the search operation. ICGS Rajdoot was tasked to patrol Old Mangaluru Port and maintain a sharp lookout at the harbour mouth. ACV (air cushion vehicle) H-198 was deployed to provide support to Coast Guard diving teams and fast patrol vessel ‘Savitribai Phule’ will continue patrolling throughout the night at Old Mangaluru Port.

“Three Coast Guard diving teams along with District Disaster Relief teams were kept in a state of alert. Following MP Shobha Karandlaje’s appeal to Coast Guard headquarters, ICGS’s Kasturba Gandhi was also kept on standby for deployment at Old Mangaluru Port at short notice,” Dasila informed.

Sandeep Patil said a team led by sub-inspector CCB Mangaluru is in Bengaluru to gather information from relatives about Siddhartha. The team will also visit his office, he added.

Siddhartha's letter to his employees
A photo of the search operation from the spot.

The police have formed four teams to trace Siddhartha, Patil said. The incident is being probed from all angles based on the driver’s complaint. CCTV footage from cameras installed three kilometres away are also being verified.

DC Sasikanth Senthil said due to high tide, the search was suspended at night and will resume on Wednesday.

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