Restaurant Mogul Turned Murder Convict P Rajagopal Dies!

  • 18 Jul 2019

P Rajagopal, the founder of Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants, turned murder convict, has died.

The 72-year-old businessman, known as the 'dosa king' died this morning at a private hospital in Chennai, where he had been placed under ventilator support since suffering a massive cardiac arrest last Saturday. 

He had surrendered to court on July 9 to serve life imprisonment for the kidnap and murder of Prince Shantakumar, the husband of a woman whom Rajagopal had wanted to take as third wife. 

Rajagopal had been ill even when he turned himself in, where he arrived in an ambulance with an oxygen mask attached to his face. 

His counsel's plea for the Madras High Court to give more time for his surrender, citing his ill health, was rejected by the court.

The saga began in 1999, when Rajagopal became determined to take Jeevajothi, the daughter of an assistant manager at one of his restaurants, as his third wife. This was on advice of an astrologer who claimed the union would bring him fantastic profits.

Jeevajothi, who was still a high school student, spurned him as she was in love with Shantakumar, who was her brother's math tutor.

Despite the couple's subsequent marriage, Rajagopal relentlessly pursued Jeevajothi - showering her with jewellery, cash, and clothing. When she threatened to go to the police, he boasted that he would "buy" his way out. 

Shantakumar was assaulted by Rajagopal and his henchmen on several occassions, before he was fatally strangled in October 2001, and his body dumped in the hill station of Kodaikanal. 

Rajagopal surrendered to the police after the case became sensational, but after coming out on bail, he is said to have met Jeevajothi and offered her lakhs in cash to try to get her to marry him.

In 2004, Rajagopal was sentenced to 10 years in jail for culpable murder, but his sentence was suspended eight months into his term, citing health reasons. 

Five years later, the High Court sentenced him to life in prison, citing "intention" in his ordering of the murder. Despite this, he was let out on bail, also on health grounds. 

In March this year, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence, and ordered Rajagopal to turn himself in by July 7.

The sensational murder case does not seem to have dampened business at Saravana Bhavan, which is known for its delicious, but expensive, vegetarian Indian food, especially its dosa, idli, and vadai.

Having started off from a single restaurant in Chennai (then known as Madras) in 1981, Saravana Bhavan now has 37 outlets in India, 47 more in a dozen other countries, and employs tens of thousands of people. 

Source: India Today
Photo source: The News Minute, Wikipedia

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