On Monday evening, V G Siddhartha, the founder of the country’s largest coffee chain, Cafe Coffee Day took his car to a bridge on the Netravati river in Mangaluru and asked his driver to wait for him at the end of the bridge, before disappearing.
This resulted in a massive manhunt for Siddhartha, also the son-in-law of former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, with the Coast Guard being roped in for search and rescue operations. Based on the complaint given by his driver and other sources, here is the most likely sequence of events.
Siddhartha’s driver, in his police complaint, said that the coffee baron left his home in Bengaluru to head to office around 8 AM on Monday. He was travelling in his black Toyota Innova (KA-03-NC-2592). Siddhartha was however back home around 11 AM, his driver said.
A letter, penned by Siddhartha to the Board of Directors, is likely to have been written during his time in office. The letter, confirmed to have been written by him by police officials, was sent to the board as an email.
Around 12.30 PM, an hour-and-a-half after he returned home, Siddhartha got into his car again and asked the driver, Basavaraj Patil, to take him to Sakleshpur. When the duo were approaching Sakleshpur, Siddhartha asked Patil to travel further -- to Mangaluru.
On reaching Mangaluru, Siddhartha then asked Patil to take a deviation towards National Highway 66 (Panvel-Kanyakumari highway), telling him that he wanted to visit a property he owned on the stretch. Around four kilometres later, they reached a bridge across the Netravati river around 6.30 pm where he asked for the car to be stopped.
According to Patil's statement, Siddhartha then exited the car, saying he wanted to walk the length of the 1 km long bridge. He asked Patil to wait at the other end.
He then proceeded to walk across the bridge and reached the car on the other side before asking the driver to take a U-turn and wait at the other end. The driver waited for him till 8 PM but when Siddhartha did not return, Patil phoned his son Amarthya who got in touch with an associate Pradeep Shetty. The driver then proceeded to the Kankanadi town police station to file a complaint.
Search operations for Siddhartha kicked off around 10 PM on Monday night and are still continuing. The dog squad zeroed in on the spot from where he allegedly jumped into the river.
On Tuesday morning, the company, in a notification to the Bombay Stock Exchange, said that Siddhartha had been unreachable since Monday evening.