Founder of the South Indian restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan, P Rajagopal, died at a Chennai hospital on Thursday, news agency PTI reported. Rajagopal was serving a life sentence in a murder case. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court for the murder of a man called Prince Shantakumar in 2001. The court had directed Rajagopal to surrender on July 7. The Supreme Court had upheld the order and dismissed his plea seeking more time to surrender.
Rajagopal had suffered a cardiac arrest at the Stanley Medical College Hospital last week. His lawyer had filed a petition in Madras High Court seeking a transfer to a private hospital. A report in the News Minute said that since the heart attack, Rajagopal was being kept in the ICU and was on the ventilator.
On the advice of an astrologer, Rajagopal wanted to marry Shantakumar’s wife Jeevajothi, who was the daughter of a former assistant manager at Saravana Bhavan. He believed that marrying Jeevajothi would bring him a fortune. He used to regularly gift her jewellery and sarees, and would also foot her medical expenses. But in 1999, Jeevajothi refused to wed him and instead got married to Shantakumar.
The Saravana Bhavan founder kept asking the couple to separate, but they did not agree. He even abducted both of them after which the couple filed a complaint at a local police station in Chennai. A few days later, Shantakumar was kidnapped and taken to Kodaikanal, where he was strangled, revealed the post-mortem.
The hotelier had surrendered in Chennai on July 9 to serve life term in a murder case after the Supreme Court rejected his plea seeking more time for his treatment. When he arrived to surrender himself, Rajagopal was in an ambulance and had an oxygen mask strapped to his face.