Saravana Bhavan owner Rajagopal passes away after suffering cardiac arrest

An image of

An image of"Dosa King P. Rajagopal is printed on the menu at one of his restaurants in Chennai IndiaMore

Founder of popular south Indian food chain Saravana Bhavan P Rajagopal passed away on Thursday morning after suffering a heart attack. When he died in a hospital in Chennai on Thursday, the 72-year-old was serving a life sentence for murder. The Madras High Court in 2009 sentenced Rajagopal and five others for the murder of Prince Santhakumar in 2001.

He was admitted to a hospital soon after until his death.

A court convicted Rajagopal in 2004 and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. He harassed, threatened and tried to blackmail her, and hired a gunman to kill the woman's husband. Saravana Bhavan, his restaurant chain which now extends from Madras to Manhattan, became a global startup when few were even aware of the term.

This came after the Supreme Court on the same day refused to grant relief to P Rajagopal who sought a direction for more time to surrender on medical grounds.

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Rajagopal was embroiled in scandal in 2003 for attempting to bribe the woman and intimidating her family, which included assaulting her brother. He was first admitted in a government hospital after surrendering at the Court and later shifted to a private. But after the couple refused, Rajagopal carried out Shantakumar's kidnapping and his subsequent murder.

He struck gold with "Saravana Bhavan" which grew into a chain of restaurants with outlets in 20 countries including the United States, the UK, France and Australia. The only problem: the woman he meant to marry, Jeevajothi, daughter of Rajagopal's manager, was already married to Prince Shanthakumar. Her father used to work at a Saravana Bhavan outlet. He was later shifted to a hospital after his condition deteriorated. Rajagopal allegedly used to harass the couple to break off the marriage. However, the case got dragged in various higher courts before the Supreme Court recently upheld his conviction. "In our considered opinion, the prosecution has proved the complicity of all the appellants in murdering Santhakumar by strangulating him and thereafter throwing the dead body at Tiger Chola (in Kodaikanal)", the apex court said.

However, a determined Rajagopal is said to have turned his focus on quality, laying high stress on oil and fresh vegetables, a feature still commended by his patrons.

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