indica News Bureau-
“Dosa king” P. Rajagopal, the founder of South Indian vegetarian restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan, died on July 18 in Chennai, India, while facing life in prison in the murder of a romantic rival over a woman, according to published reports. He was 71.
The restaurant company said he had suffered cardiac arrest. Rajagopal was expected to start his sentence this month but he was before he was admitted to a hospital because of his health, according to news reports.
After his initial conviction in 2004, Saravana Bhavan continued to expand and has 127 restaurants in 24 countries, with approximately 5,000 employees. Rajagopal began his restaurant business in Chennai in the early1980s.
Rajagopal was convicted of culpable homicide in a Chennai court and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2004 in the 2001 strangling death of a romantic rival and an employee, Prince Santhakumar, who had married the woman Rajagopal was pursuing, according to news reports. In 2009, an Indian court upgraded the conviction to murder, and the sentence was altered to life in prison. He avoided jail, until India’s Supreme Court rejected his final appeal this month, according to reports.
He opened his first restaurant in Madras in 1981 years after he had established what was then a failing grocery business.
His restaurants featured South Indian cuisine and boasted of using fresh quality ingredients, according to published reports.
Rajagopal was born on Aug. 5, 1947, in Punnaiyadi. Because of his ill health due to
diabetes, hypertension and a stroke, Rajagopal was not very involved in his business in recent years He was also nearly blind at the time of his death.
Saravanan, his youngest son, runs the business in India. Rajagopal’s older son, Shiva Kumaar, is chief executive of international operations. In addition to his sons, Rajagopal is survived by his wife, Valli, and four grandchildren, according to published reports.