The son of the owner of Saravana Bhavan, the popular chain of vegetarian restaurants in India and abroad, R. Sivakumar, was arrested late on Saturday for allegedly trying to send four of his employees to the US on forged papers.
Sivakumar, 37, is the managing director of the chain, which was started by his father P. Rajagopal as a small eatery in Chennai in 1981.
Tamil Nadu Crime Branch Police arrested Sivakumar and one of his employees K. Ramu, who allegedly claimed to be the chain’s production executive while trying to obtain a visa to the US.
Police are on the lookout for three others, who like Ramu, had tried to obtain visas posing as production executives, as part of a delegation to participate in a meet on food packaging and preservation, scheduled in Chicago from November 8 to 15.
All four are said to be cooks — US immigration laws do not allow people from this profession enter the country.
A police official said the accused led by Sivakumar had “forged documents” to get visas on false claims.
They had even managed to obtain a letter from the local chapter of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce to facilitate their trip to the US.
One of the four cooks had even got a visa, but the others were stopped on their track during the scrutiny of their papers, the official said.
The US Consulate alerted the police and an FIR was lodged.
It may be recalled that the chain’s owner, Rajagopal, was at the centre of a scandal when one of his hotel employees Santhakumar was found murdered in October 2001. The investigation revealed the role of Rajagopal in the conspiracy to murder the employee, because of his alleged involvement with Santhakumar’s wife, Jeevanjoti, whom he wanted to marry.
Rajagopal was convicted to 10 years imprisonment by the trial court in April 2004. His appeal against the conviction is currently before the Madras High Court. He was released on bail in June 2004.