Sunday, Dec 10, 2023 | Last Update : 07:21 PM IST

  India   All India  01 Aug 2019  CCD founder VG Siddhartha's body found on river bank

CCD founder VG Siddhartha's body found on river bank

Published : Aug 1, 2019, 1:22 am IST
Updated : Aug 1, 2019, 6:31 am IST

The body was immediately sent to the nearby Government Wenlock Hospital for autopsy and later sent to Chikkamagalur in an ambulance by 10.50 am.

Family members and relatives pay their last respects to the mortal remains of Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha in Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka. (Photo: PTI)
 Family members and relatives pay their last respects to the mortal remains of Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha in Chikkamagaluru, Karnataka. (Photo: PTI)

Chikkamagaluru/Mangaluru: The uncrowned king of Chikkamagaluru and founder of the iconic Cafe Coffee Day chain, V.G. Siddhartha, was given an emotional farewell Wednesday evening by hundreds of people across the coffee-growing districts in Belur, in an outpouring of grief rarely seen for a man who held no office and aspired to none.

Hope died and there were looks of despair all around when the body of Siddhartha was found — with his shirt missing but his mobile phone, from which he had made his last few calls, tucked into his trousers — after a 36-hour search early at 6.30 am Wednesday morning, ended with local fishermen spotting it on the beach near Hoige Bazaar, near Ullal in Mangaluru, about 1 km downstream of the Ullal Bridge where he was last seen alive.

Consigned to the flames, with his grief-stricken family and a sea of mourners in attendance in his native Chikkamagaluru district, his body was discovered after the Indian Navy, NDRF, Coast Guard, Home Guards, fire department, the coastal police and local fishermen launched a massive search operation on Tuesday morning, after he was suspected to have thrown himself into the swirling waters of the Netravathi river Monday evening.

There was no clue of Siddhartha’s whereabouts till Tuesday night but on Wednesday, at around 6.30 am, a team of three fishermen who had gone fishing found the body floating in the water and brought it to the shore near Karnataka Fisheries Development Corp. at Hoige Bazaar. They immediately alerted the fire department and police officials, after which a team led by Mangaluru police commissioner Sandeep Patil and former minister U.T. Khader rushed to the spot.

Mr Khader told reporters that a relative of Siddhartha who was in Mangaluru identified the body and confirmed it was that of the CCD owner.

The body was immediately sent to the nearby Government Wenlock Hospital for autopsy and later sent to Chikkamagalur in an ambulance by 10.50 am.

The cremation took place at Chethanahalli Coffee Estate in Belur bordering Mudigere taluk in Chikkamagaluru, with his elder son Amarthya doing the rituals as per Vokkaliga community traditions along with his younger brother Ishan. Political leaders cutting across party lines, including chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, former CMs H.D. Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah and former external affairs minister and Siddhartha’s father-in-law S.M. Krishna, besides hundreds of relatives, friends, employees of various companies set up by the coffee tycoon and residents of surrounding villages attended the last rites at around 7 pm.

The cremation site was chosen as per the wishes of  Siddhartha’s mother Vasanthi Hegde at an open field in the estate. His wife Malavika was inconsolable and so was Mr Krishna, who was seen trying to hold back his emotions.

Siddhartha’s father Gangaiah Hegade, 96, is in a coma and was admitted by his only son to a private hospital in Mysuru city a couple of days back. His relatives have not yet been able to overcome the shock of the 59-year-old’s untimely death and were seen consoling each other. Also seen at the funeral were Siddhartha’s mother-in-law Prema Krishna, former minister T.B. Jayachandra, BJP leaders R. Ashok and C.T. Ravi and MLC Pranesh, and D.K.Shivakumar, who had accompanied Mr Krishna in a helicopter from Bengaluru to Chikkamagalur.  

Earlier, the mortal remains of Siddhartha were shifted from Mangaluru to Chikkamagaluru town in an ambulance and were kept for public viewing at the Coffee Day Global Ltd premises on Chikkamagaluru-Kadur Road from 2.45 pm to 4.35 pm before they were shifted to Chetanahalli estate. There was jostling all around as people rushed to have a last glimpse of the CCD owner who had provided thousands of jobs to the youth of the Malnad region and Chikkamagalur in particular in his companies.  

Meanwhile, Coffee Day Enterprises named independent director S.V. Ranganath as the interim chairman of the company to replace Siddhartha. The company board, wherein Siddhartha’s wife Malavika Hegde is a director, met on Wednesday to put in place a working structure of the company. The board also appointed Nitin Bagmane as an interim chief operating officer (COO) of the company.

The political battle over the death of the CCD owner continued on Wednesday with the state Congress unit seeking an impartial and fair investigation into the death, saying “the invisible hands that ended his life” should be uncovered. Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah said the letter supposed to have been written by Siddhartha a few days before his death talked about “tax terrorism”, which is the “ugly face of politically motivated institutions”. “What signals are we sending to budding entrepreneurs without even an attempt to reform?” he wondered.

B.R. Balakrishnan, the chief commissioner of income-tax in Bengaluru, will face a police probe over the suspicious death of the CCD founder. The note said to be left by Siddhartha, before he ended life, makes serious allegations of harassment against him. Mr Balakrishna will not have immunity as a government servant, as he retired on Wednesday.

Tags: vg siddhartha, coast guard, bs yediyurappa
Location: India, Karnataka, Chikkamagaluru