P Rajagopal, founding father of the Saravana Bhavan chain of eating places, went to jail in 2019 for the 2001 homicide of an worker whose spouse he was intent on marrying. Extract from a retelling of the sensational homicide, by The Indian Specific Nationwide Editor Nirupama Subramanian.
Right here’s a counterfactual: had social media existed in 2001, with its hashtags and viral movies, would the highly effective Pitchai Rajagopal have managed to get away along with his single-minded sexual pursuit of a former worker’s daughter for over half a decade? Extra pertinently, may a homicide have been averted had Jeevajothi been capable of splash her story over Fb or Twitter? Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, the #MeToo motion in India has largely remained confined to English-speaking skilled ladies in large cities. Jeevajothi was going through as much as Rajagopal in 2001, at a time when there was no Twitter, Insta or WhatsApp. Again then, for a twenty-something lady decided to combat off a predatory male, it meant virtually a hand-to-hand fight for self-protection and self-preservation.
And that, in essence, was the way it was for Jeevajothi too. By the center of 2001, Rajagopal had turn out to be overtly open and chronic in his dedication to prise Jeevajothi away from Prince and take her as his third spouse, his second chinna veedu. An astrologer, recognized in police data as Ravi of Madipakkam, a Chennai suburb, had instructed Rajagopal that his horoscope matched with Jeevajothi’s, and marrying her would take him to the top of his achievements. That’s what Rajagopal would later inform the police. For him, this prediction was additional affirmation, if any was wanted, that taking Jeevajothi as his third spouse was predestined. It was written in his stars, and it was astrological forces that pushed him to behave in his pursuit of her. Police investigators, after all, dismiss this principle — to them the astrologer was additionally a ‘sufferer’ of Rajagopal’s machinations to amass Jeevajothi. In response to the police, even Rajagopal’s first spouse, Valli Ammal, appeared to sense this.
After the police caught up with Rajagopal, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Okay. Ramachandran, who was accountable for three Chennai police stations that had been concerned within the Prince Santhakumar homicide investigation — Velachery, Nandanam and Guindy — had event to fulfill Valli Ammal.
‘She had a request. She mentioned to me: “Look, I do know that he’s a penn pittal [womanizer]. However 1000’s of livelihoods are depending on him. He’s like a giant banyan tree. Please permit him to return out on bail.”’
Rajagopal’s sons had been grown up by then, and the elder one, Shiva Kumaar, who had studied lodge administration in Switzerland, was taking care of the Dubai outlet of Saravana Bhavan, the restaurant’s first, and at the moment the one, worldwide franchise. In 2002, when Rajagopal’s bail was cancelled, he had checked himself into Vijaya Hospital. Ramachandran went to the hospital to serve him the arrest warrant. Within the hospital room, he noticed Shiva Kumaar, who had apparently come to take depart of his father earlier than going to Dubai however was engaged in an argument with him concerning the mess that his father’s obsession with ladies had bought them into. ‘Rajagopal raised his hand as if to strike his son, and I heard him say, “I’ll marry as many ladies as I like, it’s none of your online business”,’ Ramachandran recalled.
Rajagopal’s welfare schemes for his staff enabled him to train monumental energy over each facet of their lives. He revelled on this energy — and had already demonstrated this by brutally forcing his cook dinner Ganesh Iyer to give up his spouse Krithiga to him. Now, it was as if his conquest of Krithiga had whetted his urge for food and strengthened his perception that he may have any lady he wished.
By August of 2001, till the police caught up with him in November that 12 months, Rajagopal’s single-point plan was to instal Jeevajothi as his second chinna veedu. Jeevajothi’s husband, Prince, her obvious love for him and her dedication to not permit Rajagopal to interrupt up their marriage had been all coming in the best way of his plans. He was clear that come what could, Jeevajothi can be married to him by the top of the 12 months, if not earlier than. In any case, he was a person who had, because the title of his autobiography proclaimed, set his coronary heart on victory. He was not going to be thwarted by her, and fewer so by her husband. He was not going to take no for a solution. If Prince was in the best way, then too dangerous for Prince, he needed to go. That’s how Rajagopal appeared to have seen it. And that’s how what started as an obsession in 1996 led to a cold-blooded homicide in 2001.
Extracted with permission from ‘Homicide on the Menu: The Sensational Story of the Tycoon who Based Saravana Bhavan’, by Nirupama Subramanian (Juggernaut Books)