Siddhartha still untraceable, search operations in Mangaluru to resume Wednesday3 min read . Updated: 30 Jul 2019, 09:24 PM IST
- The CCD founder, who went missing on Monday evening, is suspected to have thrown himself off a bridge
- A team of Navy divers are also arriving from the naval base in Goa by Wednesday morning, which will bolster the search operations
Mangaluru: A day-long search operation along Netravathi river near Mangaluru for Cafe Coffee Day founder V.G. Siddhartha, who went missing on Monday evening, drew a blank. Siddhartha is suspected to have jumped off a bridge on the Netravathi.
According to district officials, the rescue operation was suspended at 7pm on Tuesday, and will resume early on Wednesday. However, search teams will continue to man the banks of the river throughout the night, they said, adding that the police and district administration are unwilling to give up, unless, as a senior police officer said “the body is recovered as proof".
DIG S.S. Dasila, commander, Coast Guard Karnataka, said motorized boats, equipped with underwater search equipment, including powerful lights and oxygen tanks for divers, have been pressed into action to assist in the search operation.
The Indian Coast Guard vessel, Savitribai Phule and an air pressurized vehicle (hovercraft) have also been deployed.
“A team of Navy divers are also arriving from the naval base in Goa by Wednesday morning, which will bolster our search operations," he added.
ICGS Savitribai Phule, Fast Patrol Vessel will be on night patrol off old Mangalore Port and will maintain vigil near the harbour. Hovercraft will be tasked with day light break for search mission.
ICGS Kasturba Gandhi has also been kept on a standby and Coastal Security Police with their speedboats are patrolling the area.
Local boys, from the fishing community, who were angling at the river bank at 7 pm on Monday, informed the police that they did see a man jumping into the water from the eighth pillar of the bridge. They cast a net to save him but the current was too strong and the person who jumped was being carried away too fast.
Following the complaint by the driver of the Innova MUV that Siddhartha was in on Monday evening, the police arrived at 9 pm at the spot but it was too late.
On Tuesday, the river current was very strong and if Siddhartha, as is being suspected, really threw himself off the bridge, the body was likely to have been swept away closer to the breakwaters or even down south towards the Manjeshwaram estuary, according to fire department officials.
“In the past, too, in similar drowning cases, bodies have been found at least 10-15 km away from the Nethravati bridge. We have summoned more divers, teams to assist the district administration and they would arrive here later in the afternoon," deputy commissioner of police, law and order, Hanumantharaya, told Mint.
Coffee planters, who spoke highly of Siddhartha’s efforts to make India’s coffee industry stand up to global challenges, started arriving in Mangaluru from Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, Kodagu in big numbers on Tuesday. Former president of the Karnataka Coffee Growers Association K Jayaram was the earliest to arrive with five other close associates of Siddhartha. Jayaram said that it was hard to believe that a man of his caliber took this extreme step and the entire coffee industry is in shock over this incident.
“We may not be of any help in searching or offer any other logistic support to the local government, but we will be camping here till this reaches a logical end," said Jayaram.
“It was only after Siddhartha took the captaincy of the development of coffee as an entrepreneur that the Indian coffee industry took to global heights," he added.
Siddhartha’s model of coffee consumption has increased the industry offtake of coffee beans from 20,000 tons per annum to over 1 lakh tonnes per annum.
Until this development, coffee pricing was decided by the New York and London coffee bean market index but now India’s coffee bean pricing is dictating terms to the international market.
The Associated Coffee Beans company of Siddhartha has employed over 50,000 Indian youth directly and another 50,000 indirectly. For us Coffee growers he is no less than demi god".
Chandre Gowda, who rushed to Mangaluru from Mudigere (in Chikamagalur district), and lives close to Siddhartha’s house there, said, “He visits Mudigere twice every month and spends some time with his mother. His father, Gangaiah Hegde, who is a patriarch of coffee trade in India, is 96 years old. Hegde is also acknowledged to have increased the acreage under coffee cultivation. He is the founder president of the Karnataka Coffee Growers Association."