15-20 'sorry' calls... This was VG Siddhartha's last day

Being a single child, though Siddhartha was very ambitious, he was "very sensitive, shy and a loner by nature," say his friends.
Family members and relatives pay their last respects to the mortal remains of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha in Chikmagalur Wednesday July 31 2019. | PTI
Family members and relatives pay their last respects to the mortal remains of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha in Chikmagalur Wednesday July 31 2019. | PTI

BENGALURU: It was just another Monday morning for the family of VG Siddhartha. Yes, they were a bit surprised when he left home earlier than usual, but never would they have imagined that his body would be found floating in the Netravati river two days later. 

"Though Malavika (Siddhartha's wife) or SM Krishna (his father-in-law) didn't find anything odd with Siddhartha's behaviour on Monday, they were a bit surprised that he left home as early as 8 am to office. Siddhartha normally left around 9.30 or 10 am and it was slightly early for him to leave but there was nothing unusual about his mood that day," said a family friend who had spoken to Siddhartha's wife after the news of him going missing arrived.

According to sources, Siddhartha was at home on Sunday and had made several phone calls. He even had lunch at home with his wife and father-in-law on Sunday afternoon. He stepped out for sometime on Sunday evening and came back to have dinner before going to bed. Something must have happened in the night which led to this decision, suggest friends close to his family. 

However, Malavika and S M Krishna are tightlipped about the sequence of events and have just hinted that he had been upset with the recent pressure from the I-T department.

Siddhartha has two sons, Amartya and Ishan. Amartya, the first son, is in the US and Ishan is in school.

He left on Monday morning around 8 am, saying there was work at the office and asked the driver to take him to the head office. After this, around 11 am he asked the driver to proceed towards Sakleshpura. 

"He had even informed his family members that he was going to Sakleshpura. They were not surprised as the coffee king loved to visit his hometown and also his father's estate in Chetanahalli," said a close friend.

Siddhartha was the son of Gangaiah Hegde, a 95-year-old coffee planter, who is now unwell and in the ICU in a private hospital in Mysuru.

Siddhartha wanted to fight for the country as a soldier in the Indian Army. At the age of 18, he wrote the entrance examination for the National Defence Academy in Pune to enrol as a cadet but couldn't clear the exam.

Speaking at a conference in Kanpur, Siddhartha had reportedly said that the dejection of failing in the exam led him to join St Aloysius College in Mangaluru to do economics.

After this, against his father's will, Siddhartha decided to do business.

According to a write-up by a very close associate of Siddhartha's family, which was shared on social media, he told his father, "Look, dad, if I lose money in business, think that your son is wayward and ruined 100 acres of coffee estate on his vices. I will still be left with hundreds of more acres to inherit. I will come back and continue our plantation profession. If I succeed in business, then I will give jobs to at least 500 boys of our Chickmangluru district, who just loiter around their college," wrote Vinay Madhav, a close associate of the family.

Being a single child, though Siddhartha was very ambitious, he was "very sensitive, shy and a loner by nature," say his friends. He then worked with Mahendra Kampani of J M Financial Ltd for one year and even opened a stock brokering office in Bengaluru. 

According to Vinay Madhav, impressed with Siddhartha, the then Union Minister SM Krishna helped him take over Sivan & Co, an almost defunct stock brokering office in Bengaluru, which had its offices on Church Street. Siddhartha soon became a "hero" amongst people in Chickmagalur. Everyone admired him for his sensitivity and were happy to know that he was marrying Krishna's daughter Malavika.  

"We grew up admiring Siddhartha as a rising star in Chickmagalur district. He used to attend most of the weddings in Chickmagalur and everyone was awed by his simplicity. He spoke to everyone with the same respect and ensured that his roots remained firmly in the local community. We spoke at length about how he had adopted a middle-class lifestyle, despite being a rich kid. It was said that he lived in a single room in Mumbai in a middle-class locality while interning with JM Financial Ltd. and stayed in a single room at Hotel Highlands for a long time after taking over Sivan & Co in Bengaluru. We all respected him a lot," writes Vinay Madhav.

It's unfortunate that the same man who on the outside looked so confident and full of ambition lost his will to live at the age of 60 and declared himself a "failure" in his letter to board members.

His close associate MLA TD Rajendra says, "He was a very simple man with great family background. He had said that he was a "little upset' with the recent I-T probe which had hit his business. But we never thought he would contemplate suicide," he said.
Meanwhile, Siddhartha, according to his driver Basavaraj Patil, made a minimum of 15 to 20 calls along the way and kept apologizing to people.

In his statement to the police, he said Siddhartha "was making calls to people and saying sorry. I noticed he sounded upset but I had not even in my dreams thought that he would kill himself," the driver reportedly told the police.

The CCB police team from Mangaluru is yet to interrogate the CCD board members and family members to understand if Siddhartha was depressed and if the letter was sent on 27th July or if he emailed it on the day of his disappearance. 

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