FSL report indicates suicide by CCD founder: Police

Bengaluru, Aug 26 (IANS) Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report has indicated that Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) founder V.G. Siddhartha, 60, died due to drowning in the Netravathi river near Mangaluru in Karnataka on July 29-30, according to a police officer on Monday.

"Evidence in the FSL report corroborates with the line of our investigation that Siddhartha had committed suicide by jumping off the road bridge and drowning in the river on the night of July 29-30," Mangaluru Police Commissioner P.S. Harsha told IANS on phone.

The Siddhartha's body was found on July 31 on the shore by two fishermen near the port city, about 360 km from here.

"We will, however, continue with the investigation to find out what could have led Siddhartha to take the extreme step (of ending life)," said Harsha.

The police initially registered a missing case on July 29 night after Siddhartha's driver lodged a complaint at the local police station and an FIR was filed on July 31 after his body was found.

"The FSL report has been submitted to the investigating officer probing Siddhartha's death. It is based on the autopsy conducted on July 31 at the state-run Wenlock hospital in the port city," another police official said.

Though Siddhartha left Bengaluru on July 29 around noon for Sakleshpur in the Hassan district in a car, he told the driver to drive towards Mangaluru. "When the car reached the Ullal bridge towards Mangaluru across the river after sunset, Siddhartha alighted from the vehicle and told the driver to wait at the other end of the bridge as he wanted to walk and make some calls.

As it started raining after around 30 minutes, the driver took U-turn and drove back on the bridge to locate Siddhartha but didn't find him. After an hour-long search on a dark cloudy night across and around the bridge, the driver informed the police and sought their help to trace him.

"The investigation team also searched around the place for the T-shirt Siddhartha wore on that fateful day but was not on his body, when it washed ashore to the river bank. If he took it off and threw in the river, it would have washed away in the stream or got submerged and stuck," the official said.

The autopsy report also didn't mention external injuries on the body.

Meanwhile, Siddhartha's 96-year-old father Gangaiah Hegde passed away at a private hospital in Mysuru on Sunday due to age-related ailments, a family source said.

"Hegde was in coma when the end came. He was not told about Siddhartha's death as he was in the hospital for treatment," the source said.

Hegde leaves behind Siddhartha's mother Vasanti, daughter-in-law Malavika and two grandsons.

"The last rites of Hegde were performed at his Chetanhalli coffee estate where Siddhartha was cremated on July 31 in Mudigere taluk in the state's Chikkamagluru district," a family member told IANS.

Mysuru is about 150 km southwest of Bengaluru and Chikkamagluru is about 245 km away from the state capital.

--IANS

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