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He made 3 calls before his mobile went off: Police sources

Search operations in full swing around the Nethravati river near Mangaluru; police exploring several angles.

ET Bureau|
Jul 31, 2019, 06.42 AM IST
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BENGALURU: Search operations to trace Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha in and around the Nethravati river near Mangaluru continued late into Tuesday, even as the police is exploring several angles to his mysterious disappearance since Monday night.

As Siddhartha was last seen speaking on his phone on the Ullal Bridge, by his driver Basavaraj Patil, the police have detained Patil for further questioning.

In his complaint to the Kankanady police station, Basavaraj Patil said: “Just before the bridge, Siddhartha got off the car to visit the company’s site. He told me to drive and wait on the other end of the bridge. After some time, he walked up to me and told me to remain seated inside the car while he took a walk on the bridge once again. When he did not return, I called him at 8 pm but by then his phone was switched off.”

In the complaint, Patil said that Siddhartha left for Sakleshpur from Bengaluru at 12.30 pm on Monday. They later drove from there to Mangaluru.

Sources in the police revealed that Siddhartha had made three calls, each not more than a minute, moments before the mobile phone went off.

“The department has accessed the call records. I cannot divulge more information on this. We are investigating the case from all angles and not just from what the driver has said. Different police teams have been formed to keep a check of all lodges and airports,” Sandeep Patil, Mangaluru City Police Commissioner, told reporters.

He confirmed that the letter purportedly written by Siddhartha, dated July 27, is authentic as the police received it from the family. A police team is also talking to the missing businessman’s family and relatives to ascertain details.

Meanwhile, several teams of expert divers and swimmers from the National Disaster Response Force and the Coast Guard are part of the search operation that is aided by the best equipment, including a hovercraft and air-support. The search operations were interrupted both by rain and the swollen river. The bridge is at a point where the Nethravati joins the Arabian sea. Sandeep Patil said more than a hundred personnel are involved in the search operation.

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Search operations have proved futile so far.

In Bengaluru, ‘Adya,’ Siddhartha’s house in Sadashiva Nagar wore a deserted look. A few metres away, visitors made a beeline to the residence of former chief minister SM Krishna, Siddhartha’s father-in-law. Krishna’s daughter Malavika, who is married to the CCD founder, apparently went to her father’s house with her two sons on Monday night soon after the family got to know about Siddhartha going incommunicado. Heavyweights from across parties, including chief minister BS Yediyurappa, JD(S) chief HD Deve Gowda, Congress leader Siddaramaiah, Mallikarjuna Kharge and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy were present. Congress leader DK Shivakumar told reporters that Siddhartha had called him on Monday (28th). “He asked me if we can meet and I told him that we will meet soon. The entire episode appears fishy and I urge a thorough investigation into the matter,” he said.

Domestic staff at Siddhartha’s house, who saw him leave home for Mangaluru, said it was unusual for the CCD founder to return home by 11 am. He apparently left soon after having lunch.
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