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India's 'Dosa King' dies months after losing appeal against murder conviction


NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The founder of the largest Indian chain of restaurants offering southern food at home and abroad, "Dosa King" P. Rajagopal, died on Thursday, nearly four months after he lost his final appeal against a murder conviction.

A court in the southern Indian city of Chennai in 2009 handed Rajagopal a life term for kidnapping and killing the husband of a woman he wanted to marry.

The Supreme Court in March upheld that decision.

"He was transferred from another hospital day before yesterday and has been on ventilator support. He passed away around 10:39 A.M. today," a spokesman at the Vijaya Health Center in Chennai said.

Rajagopal was 72, according to the Times of India newspaper.

Saravana Bhavan, a vegetarian hotel chain Rajagopal started in the early eighties in Chennai, has branches across India and in the United States, Britain, Australia and Singapore, among others.

Rajagopal appeared before the court in Chennai last week in a stretcher and breathing through an oxygen mask to surrender.

The restaurant chain, known for its crisp, wafer-thin, rice flour pancakes or "dosas" and fragrant, spice-filled vegetable stew, is now run by his two sons, according to the hotel's website.

(Reporting by Sudarshan Varadhan; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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