Chennai: Saravana Bhavan hotel owner P Rajagopal passed away at a private hospital in Chennai on Thursday (July 18). He was 72.

Rajagopal had been facing health issues for a few months and had even suffered a heart attack in July. His failing health forced doctors to put him on a ventilator.

Rajagopal, who was admitted to Stanley Medical College Hospital was shifted to a private hospital upon his son’s request to a court.

Rajagopal was convicted to 10 years rigorous imprisonment by a sessions court for the abduction and murder of a man named Prince Santhakumar in 2001.

Rajagopal allegedly wanted to marry Jeevajyothi on the advice of an astrologer. However, Jeevajyothi married Santhakumar, making Rajagopal angry. He continued to pursue her, while harassing her husband.

Rajagopal had appealed against the decision of the sessions court in the Madras high court, which revised the sentence to life imprisonment. He challenged the sentence in the Supreme Court, and after much delay, the apex court upheld the life imprisonment.

Owing to his health, the court gave Rajagopal time till July 7 to surrender . However, Rajagopal failed to surrender on the said date and filed a plea with the apex court on the next day seeking extension for his surrender. The Supreme Court had refused to grant him relief and ordered him to surrender immediately.  

Rajagopal had surrendered before the IV Magistrate court in Chennai on July 8 and was admitted to Stanley Medical College hospital on the same day.

Plagued by health issues, Rajagopal had come to the court complex in an ambulance from Vijaya Hospital and was taken in a stretcher to the court. He then surrendered in the murder case as per the orders of the Supreme Court.

Rajagopal had started Saravana Bhavan — a chain of vegetarian restaurants, in Chennai in 1981. From its first outlet in KK Nagar, Saravana Bhavan hotels have now branched out to over 15 countries worldwide.