People all across India know and love Saravana Bhavan unlike any other restaurant.
You can go at literally any given point of time in the day and it is guaranteed that you will find a long line of customers waiting outside the restaurant.
Known for its authentic all vegetarian South Indian food, Saravana Bhavan is a staple for many of us who go there as small or big groups to gorge on budget friendly yet delicious food.
However, behind all that success, the founder and owner of this global restaurant chain is currently going through a rough patch.
Basically, getting a life sentence for murder after a long case that has been going on since 2001.
What Is The Controversy?
P Rajagopal, the owner of Saravana Bhavan has been involved in the case ever since 2001 when the wife of his employee filed a missing person’s report.
Apparently, Rajagopal wanted to marry Jeevajothi who was the daughter of an assistant manager at Saravana Bhavan’s Chennai branch.
According to sources, he was told to do this on advice of his astrologer, and already had 2 wives from earlier marriages, one in 1972 and another in 1994, where the woman was also incidentally the wife of one of his employees.
As per a report Jeevajothi was not interested in marrying Rajagopal and instead eloped with Santhakumar in 1999. As per them, Rajagopal even threatened the couple in 2001 to separate and for Jeevajothi to accept him.
Within a few days, Santhakumar was forced into a car with Daniel, one of the restaurant managers and taken somewhere without any communication. On 31st October, Santhakumar’s body was found by forest officials in Perumalmalai, Kodaikanal.
According to the post-mortem done, the cause of his death was strangulation or “asphyxia due to throttling.”
All this was written in a detailed 30,000 word document that the Madras High Court accepted as the most credible evidence during Rajagopal’s 2009 appeal trial.
In 2003, the 72 year old was also accused of attempting to bribe Jeevajothi with Rs 6 lakh and assaulting her brother Ramkumar in Thethakudi village of Nagapattinam district.
In the commotion, which caused neighbours to come out to investigate, Rajagopal’s legal advisor was caught while the main accused and his other men escaped.
The Different Punishments Till Now
The case has been going on for quite a many years now, and at different point, Rajagopal has been given different punishments.
In 2004, Poonamallee Additional Sessions Court, a local court had sentenced him to 10 years in prison, on the grounds of culpable homicide not amounting to murder along with also pressing a fine of Rs 55 lakh, including Rs 50 lakh as compensation.
Although he was let out on bail and appealed in the Madras High Court in 2009, the verdict was not overturned and instead changed to life in prison.
This sentence was then upheld by the Supreme Court with even his appeal to delay his sentence due to medical reasons being rejected.
The Supreme Court had granted him bail in 2009, however, as per reports had to surrender by July 7th.
He has now finally turned himself in at the Madras High Court on Tuesday, 9th July.
It is not yet known how this will impact Saravana Bhavan that has over 80 outlets around the world including US, France, UK, Australia and more.
In India there are over 25 branches of the restaurant, with a couple being in Delhi itself.
Image Credits: Google Images
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