The worst fears came true on Wednesday morning when local fishermen found V G Siddhartha, founder of Café Coffee Day, floating in Netravati river, some distance away from the Mangaluru bridge where he was seen last some on Monday night. The coffee tycoon had gone missing Monday evening, after which a massive search operation was launched.
In a note purportedly written by him, Siddhartha had mentioned pressure from business partners and harassment by tax authorities. “I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure….’’
Crowds thronged to pay homage to the billionaire entrepreneur at the Wenlock Hospital in Chikkamagaluru, where his body was taken for post-mortem at 8.30 am. The body was taken to Cheekanahalli village (near Chikkamagaluru), where his parents live, and then to the office premises of Amalgamated Bean Coffee, the parent company of CCD, for public viewing.
A voluntary bandh was observed across Chikkamagaluru as commercial establishments shut down in a mark of respect for the business leader. At around 5 pm, the body was moved back to his native village—Cheekanahalli—where the final rites were performed.
S M Krishna, father-in-law of Siddhartha and a politician, and Siddhartha’s wife Malavika and their sons Amartya and Ishaan were present at the family estate.
Former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy and Congress leader D K Sivakumar were also among those who were present.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said: “We have found the body..... I have no words to comfort the family. He had more assets than liabilities.”
A senior police official told PTI, “Investigation is going on. Prima facie every thing points out to that (suicide) only. But we still we can’t rule out anything. We will have to finish the investigation”. The family owned over 350 acres of coffee estate and had been in the business for over 140 years.