Son-in-law of former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader S M Krishna and Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder V G Siddhartha has gone missing on his way to Mangaluru from Bengaluru, prompting the authorities to launch a massive search on Tuesday. Heavy rain has hampered the search operations in Netravati River near Mangaluru where VG Siddhartha was last seen. The river directly opens into the sea at a distance of 600 metres.
According to the police, Siddhartha was last seen near a bridge across the Netravati river in the Kotepura area in Dakshina Kannada district on Monday night. Teams of National Disaster Response Force, Coast Guard, Home Guard, fire services and coastal police have been pressed into service to trace Siddhartha. Local fisherman, along with their boats, have also joined in the search operations. In Delhi, a group of Karnataka BJP MPs led by Shobha Karandlaje on Tuesday met Home Minister Amit Shah and sought central help to trace the businessman.
“Siddhartha had left from Bengaluru to Sakleshpur in Hassan district on Monday afternoon, but on the way he had asked his driver to go towards Mangaluru,” the police said. On reaching the bridge across the Netravati river, he got down from the car and told his driver that he was going for a walk. “He (Siddhartha) asked the driver to wait till his arrival. When he did not return even after two hours, the driver approached the police and lodged a missing complaint,” Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district Senthil Sasikant Senthil told PTI.
“The help of local fishermen is being taken in the search. We are checking who he spoke to over phone,” Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil said.
“Air Cushion Vehicle (H-198) is undertaking search in Nethrvathi River and providing support to CG diving teams. Three diving teams, along with the district disaster relief team, has been deputed to carry out search for the missing person,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
Congress MLA U T Khader, who reached the spot, told reporters the police were looking into “all angles”.
In Bengaluru, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and several leaders visited Krishna’s Bengaluru residence after reports of Siddhartha’s missing.
“I have failed as an entrepreneur,” Siddhartha has said in a letter purportedly written to the Board of Directors and employees of Coffee Day Enterprises he founded.
“After 37 years, with strong commitment to hard work, having directly created 30,000 jobs in our companies and their subsidiaries, as well as 20,000 jobs in technology company where I have been a large shareholder since its founding, I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts,” he said. “I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that have put their trust in me,” he said.
Siddhartha said that he fought for a long time but “today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend”.
“Tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation,” he said.
Siddhartha, aged around 60, alleged in the letter purportedly written by him that there was a lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching “our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking position of our Cafe Coffee Day shares, although revised returns have been filed by us”.
Shares of Coffee Day Enterprises tanked 20 per cent and hit the lower circuit limit as well as 52-week low of Rs 154.05 apiece on BSE after news surfaced that its founder has gone missing.