Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder-chairman V.G. Siddhartha is no more, as his body was found in Karnataka’s Netravathi river, near here, police said on Wednesday. He was 60.
“Two fishermen found Siddhartha’s body early this morning about 500 metres away from the road bridge from where he alleged to have jumped into the river on Monday night,a Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil told reporters here.
The port city of Mangaluru is about 360km west of Bengaluru.
The body was found by the fishermen near Hoige Bazar in trousers but without shirt.
“The body has been shifted to the state-run Wenlock hospital mortuary here for autopsy. It will be handed over to Siddhartha’s family and taken to Chikkamgaluru for the last rites,” Ullal Congress legislator and former minister U.T. Khadar said.
“It was identified to be Siddhartha’s with a gold ring on his right hand finger, a digital watch on his left hand and shoes he was wearing when he appears to have jumped off the road bridge.
On asked about the body found with the torso naked and only trousers on, Khader said though it was for the police to investigate whether he took them off before jumping into the river, as they were not found on the bridge or in the vicinity during the 36-hour long search operation.
The 36-hour long massive search in the river had continued over the last two night which led to the spot where the body surfaced and seen by the two fishermen.
“The body will be kept for homage by the public at Chikkamgaluru and the last rites will be performed at Siddharatha’s native village in the Coffee district.
On Tuesday, a fisherman had claimed to have seen a man jumping into the Netravathi river from the same bridge, almost 24 hours after his driver raised an alarm about the missing businessman.
Two days prior to his disappearance, the coffee baron had left behind a note to his employees that revealed he was in deep debt.
The mountain of debt was impairing his business as working capital requirements could not be met. It led him to sale his stakes in IT firm Mindtree that gave him some room to manoeuvre.
“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…,” his note read.
In his desperation, he was also reportedly in a dialogue with global beverage maker Coca-Cola for an equity sale in flagship Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) at an enterprise valuation of around Rs 10,000 crore may have been on the anvil.
In a complaint to the police, his driver, who last saw him alive, said that Siddhartha told him to stop by the side soon as they drove on to the bridge and asked him to wait in the car at the end of the bridge as he wanted to walk up and had to make calls.
“When the rain started, I took a u-turn and drove back to the spot where I left Sir and searched around for him. As it was dark, windy and raining, I could not find him anywhere on the bridge or in the river,” Patil had said in the complaint.
Siddhartha left Bengaluru on Monday afternoon to Sakleshpur near Hassan where he has a house and one of his coffee estates. As it was on way to Mangaluru, he told Patil to drive towards Mangaluru after a short break at Sakleshpur to fresh-up.
Siddhartha is the elder son-in-law of senior BJP leader, S.M. Krishna, who was External Affairs Minister in the UPA-2 government (2009-12) and state Chief Minister (1999-2004) when in the Congress.