P Rajagopal, the founder of Saravana Bhavan , the world’s largest South Indian vegetarian restaurant chain, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in an abduction and murder case, died in a private hospital in Chennai today (18 July).
Described as ‘Dosa King’, Rajagopal, who started as an owner of an obscure hotel in a small town in Tamil Nadu, built a global restaurant chain with presence in 24 countries through his extra-ordinary entrepreneurial effort.
Rajagopal’s successful business model was shaped by uncompromising standards of food preparation using high quality ingredients, relentless commitment to quality standards, consistent food taste, and an almost fanatical zeal for cleanliness.
Rajagopal was also a benevolent employer who provided several benefits for his employees to motivate them to provide impeccable service.
On 8 July, Rajagopal had surrendered before a Chennai court after being convicted and sentenced to a life term in a murder case. The Supreme Court refused to give time for him to surrender in the case of the murder of his employee, Prince Santhakumar.
Rajagopal was convicted to ten years rigorous imprisonment by a sessions court for the abduction and murder of Prince Santhakumar in 2001. It was alleged that under the advice of his astrologer, Rajagopal wanted to marry Jeevajyothi as his third wife and when she refused the proposal, he ordered her husband’s murder.
On 14 July, Rajagopal’s son had filed a petition in Madras High Court seeking that his father, who was admitted to government run Stanley Medical College and Hospital after his surrender in the murder case, be shifted to a private hospital due to deteriorating health.
His son alleged that doctors at the government hospital changed the medicines taken by his father as a result of which his dad’s health started deteriorating. On 13 July, Rajagopal suffered a cardiac arrest.