Mourners bid tearful adieu to coffee baron Siddhartha

Bengaluru, July 31 (IANS) Hundreds of people bid a tearful adieu to Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha at his last rites in his estate at Chethanahalli village in Karnataka's Chikkamagaluru district on Wednesday, a family member said.

"The last rites were performed as per our Vokkaliga community tradition and Siddhartha's eldest son Amartya lit the pyre to the body, which was cremated in a designated spot in the coffee estate in his native village," the family member told IANS in Kannada over phone.

Siddhartha's widow Malavika Hegde, his second son Ishaan, father-in-law and senior BJP leader S.M. Krishna, mother in-law Prema and other family members and relatives were present on the occasion, trying to control their emotions and hold back their tears.

"Malavika, both sons and Siddhartha's family members were unconsolable as they burst into tears on seeing the body when it was taken out of the ambulance for cremation," the family member recalled.

Siddharatha's nonagenarian (96 years) father S.N. Gangaiah Hegde could not attend the funeral as he is admitted to a hospital in Mysuru, about 150 km southwest of Bengaluru.

"Siddharatha's father is unaware of his son's death as he has not been told about it on his doctor's advice as it may upset and shock him," the family member added.

The body was brought to the village by evening from Mangaluru via Chikkamgaluru town where it was kept for two hours in the company office for the public to pay their homage.

Siddhartha's ancestral home is in the same village near the estate.

Among the people present at the funeral were Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and H.D. Kumaraswamy, former ministers D.K. Shivakumar, K.J. Georege, H.K. Patil and Sa.Ra. Mahesh, among others.

As a holiday was declared in all the coffee estates across the district, hundreds of workers and employees thronged the place for a last glimpse of Siddharatha.

Many of the coffee king's employees and workers in nearby and surrendering areas of the district came in buses, mini vans, auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers.

The coffee estate is 150 km from Mangaluru and 250 km northwest of Bengaluru in the biodiverse Western Ghats of the state. The body was taken to the Coffee Day Global Enterprises office in Chikkamgaluru town enroute the village.

Hundreds of people, including women and elders from the surrounding towns and villages, lined up on both sides of the state highway when the ambulance carrying the body passed through the Mudigeree taluk.

After two fishermen found the body floating in the backwaters of the Netravathi river earlier in the day, the police recovered and shifted it to state-run Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru for post-mortem.

"The body was handed over to his family after the autopsy," said a source.

Siddhartha went missing on Monday night and was suspected to have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge into the Netravathi river near Karnataka's Mangaluru coast.

--IANS

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