VG Siddhartha, the founder of the popular chain Cafe Coffee Day and son-in-law of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, has gone missing from near a river in Mangaluru in Karnataka, the police say. He was last seen on a bridge over the Netravati river in the coastal town, according to reports.
The police have launched a massive search operation near the 1-km-long bridge; divers are scanning the muddy river. Cops on inflatable boats have joined the search.
In a letter that Mr Siddhartha reportedly wrote to the management and employees of the coffee chain, he expressed unhappiness over not creating “the right profitable business”. “…I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts… Every financial transaction is my responsibility… The law should hold me and only me accountable,” news agency said.
In his statement to the police, the businessman’s driver Basavaraj Patil said they were going to Sakleshpur from Bengaluru in a Toyota Innova, a 220-km drive, when in the middle of the journey Mr Siddhartha asked him to go to Mangaluru.
Just outside of Mangaluru, as they were approaching a bridge, the businessman asked the driver to stop the car and he got down. Mr Patil said Mr Siddhartha told him to drive towards the other end of the bridge and wait there. “He said he will walk and come… At 8 pm (an hour later) I called him but his phone was (switched) off. Then I called his son and he said he’ll call him too. Later I filed a complaint,” said Mr Patil, who has been driving for the businessman for three years.
Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil said they are checking who all Mr Siddhartha spoke to last. “A dog squad was used (on the bridge). It stopped at a point in the middle of the bridge. Local fishermen are helping in the search,” Mr Patil said.
Karnataka BJP leader Jnanendra told reporters Mr Siddhartha’s father is unwell and is in a hospital in Mysuru. Another state BJP leader, Shobha Karandlaje, has written to the centre asking for help to trace the missing businessman.
“I am very shocked that our friend, a very good man, who has given thousands of jobs, is missing since yesterday night. All sorts of possibilities are there – might have got into another car, accidentally fell into water. We pray for his safety,” said former Congress minister UT Khader, who had gone to the bridge over the Netravati river to see the search operation.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa visited the Bengaluru home of BJP leader SM Krishna this morning. Top leaders DK Shivakumar and BL Shankar from Mr Krishna’s former party, the Congress, also visited him. A large number of leaders and well-wishers have also gathered at his home.