Archives  >  2019  >  July  >  31st

The Case of the Missing Coffee Baron

1. What’s the story?

V G Siddhartha, the founder of India’s biggest coffee chain, is missing. The last anyone heard from the Café Coffee Day owner was on Monday evening, when he was on his way to the coastal city of Mengaluru.
Tell me more.
Siddhartha, the son-in-law of former Karnataka Chief Minister and BJP bigwig S M Krishna, was allegedly “under a lot of pressure from lenders”. In a letter purportedly written by him (that is currently doing the social media rounds), he addressed the Board of Directors as well as employees of Coffee Day Enterprises – lamenting his failure as an entrepreneur and alleging systematic harassment from the Income-Tax Department. “I fought for a long time but today I have given up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares. A transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders led to me succumbing to the situation…” he allegedly wrote. The Income-Tax department, however, is doubtful of the letter’s authenticity. The signature doesn’t match, they have claimed. Department sources in New Delhi have also denied the charge of harassment against them.

Siddhartha, who was last spotted near a bridge in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, had informed his driver that he was just going for a walk. When he didn’t return even after two hours, the driver lodged a police complaint.
So, what next?
Senior Congress leaders are crying foul. “ … I find this (the disappearance) utterly fishy and urge that a thorough investigation be conducted into the matter”, said Congress bigshot, D K Shivakumar.

In the meantime, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), coast guard, coastal police, and the home guard have been scouring the Nethravathi river in search of some clue.

Updated to add: Siddhartha’s body was recovered from the Nethravathi river an hour ago. Investigation is still underway.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Rajya Sabha, that’s where. As Six Things had covered here earlier, the controversial Triple Talaq Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last week – and now Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Parliament) has followed suit. In a major legislative success for the ruling BJP, the Rajya Sabha approved this Bill on Tuesday, making instant triple talaq a criminal offence for Muslim men.
There were 99 votes in favour of the Bill, with 84 votes against. The final vote was the culmination of a spirited debate in the Parliament that went on for almost five hours. “The debate that went on for almost five hours witnessed a slugfest between Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who termed the bill a “politically motivated” move to destroy Muslim households…” Though NDA, the ruling alliance, lacks majority in Rajya Sabha, it managed to hit the winning tally due to the absence of a number of Opposition members on this crucial day. Now, this Bill awaits assent from the President.

3. What more?

Congress’ woes seem to be never ending. Ahead of the Maharashtra elections, four of its MLAs have quit the party (ostensibly to join the BJP), and even senior Rajya Sabha members are changing their allegiance. Senior Congress leader Sanjay Sinh has resigned. He had earlier left Congress to join BJP, and then left BJP to join Congress again. He has now announced that he will go back to BJP. Déjà vu is real, y’all.

4. Anything else?

In Assam, fake trials could strip thousands of their citizenship. The situation is chilling.

“Dilip Biswas had lived in Assam for 40 years, growing rice on his land and cooking lunch at a local restaurant, when one day in 2009 the police came knocking on his door. Despite being an ethnic Bengali, a targeted minority in the state, Biswas had never doubted his Indianness. But suddenly he was told to prove it, leave the country forever, or go to jail.

Biswas was given the option to appear in a special court called a “Foreigners Tribunal,” a quasi-judicial system that orders the removal of so-called non-Indians from the country.

Now, on the heels of a resounding re-election victory by Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party, which ran on an aggressively anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform, the state of Assam is using these tribunals to embark on what may be one of largest purges of citizenship in history.”

5. Is that all?

Scientists are just now waking up to nature’s most perfect crime – “a brain-eating amoeba.”

“Last week, a North Carolina man became a notorious microbial killer’s first confirmed victim this year. Fifty-nine-year-old Eddie Gray had unknowingly come across a brain-eating amoeba while swimming in a man-made lake near Fayetteville in mid-July; 10 days later, he was dead.”

6. Before you leave …

You may want to read about the dramatic escape of Princess Haya, the wife of Dubai’s current ruler. Princess Haya, the sixth and “junior” wife of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammad Al Maktoum, fled Dubai with her minor children, and is now apparently in hiding in London — seeking a forced marriage protection order from the UK courts and fearing for her life.

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