Day Before Siddhartha’s Body Found, Fisherman Said He Saw Man Jump
Mangaluru police commissioner Sandeep Patil said locals found VG Siddhartha’s body floating near the Hoige Bazaar.
For more than 36 hours, before the search party spotted the body of 58-year-old VG Siddhartha, the otherwise calm stretch of Netravati bridge adjoining National Highway 66 had turned into a ‘war room’ of sorts, amid large-scale rescue operations.
The high-profile search for the founder-proprietor of Cafe Coffee Day and son-in-law of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna finally ended around 6:30 am on Wednesday, 31 July, after his body was recovered on the banks of the Netravati river.
Mangaluru police commissioner Sandeep Patil said locals found the body floating near Mangaluru's Hoige Bazaar, around eight kilometres away from the spot where he disappeared.
Hours before this, one of the fishermen helping the police in their search for Siddhartha, had claimed that he saw a man jumping off the bridge on Monday night. This offered a crucial clue for the police.
‘Saw a Man Jump Off the Bridge on Monday Night’: Fisherman
68-year-old Simon D’souza said he saw an ‘unidentified person’ jumping off the bridge and struggling in the water for about five minutes before drowning.
Speaking to The Quint, D'souza said he left from his home at Ullal-Hoige (near the railway bridge) and proceeded below the vehicular bridge for his daily fishing on Monday.
“As usual I leave from my home at 5:30 pm and take about an hour to reach under the vehicular bridge. I had spread the net on the water and was about to leave, when I saw an ‘unidentified person’ splash into water near the eighth pier of the bridge.”Simon D’souza, Fisherman
He said he continued to row the boat towards the direction where the person had fallen into the water. “I have a small boat and I tried my best to navigate towards him and rescue him. I could see the person come up and down and struggle in the water, but I was alone in a small boat and failed to reach in time and he drowned,” he said.
The fisherman said that finding no body in sight or anyone to help, he returned home a little while later and told his family about the incident. “I wish my circumstances would have allowed me to speedily navigate towards the victim faster, I would have saved him,” he said.
Heavy Rain Had Delayed Search Ops
Speaking to The Quint, a senior police official had said there was a heavy downpour during the intervening night, which delayed the search for the body. “Without lighting and generator backup we would have risked the life of the rescuers. So we had to wait for a day-break to begin a full-fledged operation. It also enabled us to assemble more equipment, boats and crew,” he said.
The instantaneous rain received by the district has raised the water level at Nethravathi to as high as 5.6 metres, as per the recent readings, and that has further increased the rescuers’ problem.
High Currents in the River: Authorities
Interacting with the media, the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dakshina Kannada Sasikanth Senthil had admitted: “Since the water current is very high, Indian Coast Guards (ICG) was asked to look out at the exterior part of the river. Further, we had requested assistance from the deep sea divers from India Navy based out of Karwar as well.”
Meanwhile, DIG Surendra Singh Dasila, Commander of Coast Guard Karnataka said that in support of the rescue operations, Indian Coast Guard had deployed its assets ICGS Rajdoot (tasked to patrol off old Mangalore Port and maintaining sharp lookout very close to harbour mouth), Air Cushion Vehicle (Hovercraft) (undertaking search in Nethrvathi River and providing support to cg diving teams), three CG Diving Teams along with District Disaster Relief Team has been deputed to carry out search for missing person and ICGS Savitribai Phule kept standby for deploying off old Mangalore port at short notice.
Along with the local administration, over 20 local fishermen and police divers, rescue boats, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) battalion, Coastguard Ships have been pressed into service in search of the founder proprietor of Cafe Coffee Day.
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