Bengaluru: Iconic coffee chain brand Café Coffee Day's founder VG Siddhartha, who brewed a dream of Indian coffee in many hearts, went missing on Monday night near Mangaluru in mysterious circumstances.
He is the son-in-law of former CM of Karnataka and union external affairs minister SM Krishna.
Siddhartha reportedly asked his driver Basvaraj Patil, 27, to report for duty on Monday saying he wanted to go to Chikmaglaru where he owns large swaths of coffee estates. But, at the last moment, he asked his driver to take him to the coastal city of Mangaluru.
On reaching the bridge, across the swollen Netravati river, on the outskirts of Mangaluru, Siddhartha reportedly asked his driver to stop the car as he wanted to take a stroll across the bridge. He instructed the driver to wait across the bridge where he would join.
But when he did not turn up even after an hour, the driver returned to the spot where he had dropped Siddhartha only to find him missing. He immediately informed Krishna's family who alerted the police.
A local fisherman reportedly saw a man jumping into the river around the same time that Siddhartha went missing. He told the police that the man struggled for about five minutes and then drowned.
A massive search operation was launched on Tuesday morning with the help of ace divers of the Indian Navy, helicopters, NDRF teams, local divers and the police.
The search operation will go on till late night, according to Sandeep Patil, Mangaluru Police Commissioner.
Local fishermen told FPJ on phone that since the river is in a spate and has very strong undercurrents, the possibility of finding any body is remote. In all probability it may have been swept away into the Arabian Sea.
According Siddhartha's call records, he had last talked to CFO Javed Parvez and Chidambar, another senior CCD official. They were his childhood friends. He reportedly discussed some financial matters. The two are now being questioned by the police.
There are two crucial points: The last live signal from Siddhartha's phone was from the Netravathi river, according to tower records. Secondly, after alighting from the car, he had talked to one more person before his phone went dead.
This prompted senior Congress leader D K Shivakumar to say that the disappearance of Siddhartha was "utterly fishy" and sought an investigation into it. The former Karnataka minister said the letter purportedly written by Siddhartha, "which is circulating", is dated July 27 (Saturday) and he received a call from the son-in-law of former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader S M Krishna on Sunday asking if they could meet.
Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha vanishes from bridge on a river
A fisherman saw a man jump into the river around the time VGS went missing
Last talked to his CFO and another senior CCD official: They were childhood friends
After alighting from car on the bridge, he talked to one more person
Letter purportedly written by Siddhartha, alleging harassment by IT men, which is circulating, is dated July 27. Why was it released later? Signature also in doubt
By Shankar Raj