Saravana Bhawan founder P Rajagopal passes away

Clay Curtis
July 19, 2019

P Rajagopal, Saravana Bhavan's owner, who was accused in a 2001 kidnapping and murder case died at a private hospital in Chennai after he suffered a heart attack Thursday. This was increased to life when his appeal was rejected by the high court in 2009, and Rajagopal had battled to avoid jail ever since with a series of appeals.

He was admitted to a hospital soon after until his death. Despite Jeevajyothi's resistance, Rajagopal continued to pursue and harass her and her husband.

According to the prosecution, an astrologer advised Rajagopal to marry Jeevajothi, the daughter of a Saravana Bhavan employee, to become rich, following which he tried to woo her. Rajagopal who was brought to the court in an ambulance, plugged to an oxygen tank had however appealed to the court for more time to surrender on grounds of ill health.

Rajagopal already had two wives then.

"Rajagopal, shifted to a private hospital in the city from the State-run Stanley Medical College Hospital following a court direction on Tuesday, died at around 10 am Thursday", a source close to him told PTI. However, Jeevjyothi married Shanthakumar in 1999 after refusing Rajagopal's proposal.

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The top court noted in its judgment earlier this year that Rajagopal initially attempted to make her his third wife and after failing in his endeavour, plotted abduction and murder of her husband. The Saravana group has over 20 outlets in South India and many others in the north and overseas. Nevertheless, he set up Chennai's first Saravana Bhavan in 1981. Rajagopal allegedly used to harass the couple to break off the marriage.

Almost 29 of these global branches, Romig's New York Times Magazine story notes, were inaugurated by the end of the year that saw Rajagopal convicted for murder, in 2004. His body was found in the forests.

2003 - Fresh charges filed against Rajagopal for intimidating Jeevajtohi and offering her Rs 6 lakh as bribe. The court also gave Rajagopal time till July 7 to surrender owing to health issues.

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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