Businessman's decision to delay Kenya trip led to fatal tryst

A last-minute decision to postpone a business trip to Nairobi for two days proved fatal for B N Sudarshan, a Bangalore-based businessman who was one of the victims of the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday.

Sudarshan’s assistant Basavaraj said that his boss was originally scheduled to leave for Nairobi on September 18, which he cancelled for several reasons. “He would have been alive and back in India by now had he stuck to his earlier itinerary,” Basavaraj said.

A regular visitor to Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya, Sudarshan visited these countries once every fortnight. In fact, Sudarshan was due to fly to Accra, the capital of Ghana on the morning of September 23. As he had some free time, he decided to visit the mall.

Basavaraj is convinced that Sudarshan’s caring nature resulted in his death.
“He was fond of my son, Raj Nihar, a class V student. He wanted to buy him some chocolates and gifts and went inside the mall, only to be killed,” Basavaraj said.
Caring personality

Sources said Sudarshan’s dedication to work was matched only by his sense of duty to society.

“I have never come across such a generous person in my life,” Basavaraj said. “Sudarshan decided not to marry as he thought it would hinder his passion for serving society. He always donated generously and helped people in his neighbourhood.”
Sudarshan had ventured into the export business in 1998. He ran his business by getting bulk print orders for textbooks, notebooks and study material from Kenya. He would have the content printed in Karnataka, sometimes even getting them converted to digital format, which he would then export back to Kenya. Sources said he often kept study materials such as notebooks for free distribution to schoolchildren in Bidadi, Hejjala and Sheshagirihalli. Sudarshan was immensely popular in the area for his philanthropic work, they said.
Sudarshan had also expanded the Kannadiga network in Ghana. Basavaraj explained that Sudarshan had purchased property in Ghana  and had ensured employment for more than 20 youths from Bangalore.
“He had provided them free accommodation and had recently started a Kannada Sangha to help unemployed youths from Karnataka,” Basavaraj said. The scope of his activities in Ghana earned him the popular nickname “Ghana Sudarshan.”

Sudarshan’s elder brother Sridhar remains unable to understand why his brother had to die.

“What crime did he commit to have met this kind of end?” he asked. “How was he related to the conflict between Somalia and Kenya? Why don’t terrorists understand all this?”

Last time together

Sudarshan’s eldest brother, Ramprasad, told Deccan Herald, that the entire family had made a pilgrimage to Tirupati recently.

“Sudarshan offered his hair to Lord Venkateshwara in Tirupati,” Ramprasad said.
“Sadly, this fact helped us establish the identity of his body. We informed the Indian High Commission about his shaved head, which led to an easy identification.”

The family will file an affidavit and tender two passports with the Indian High Commission to claim the body which is likely to be brought to Bangalore in a few days.

Sudarshan completed his schooling at East West School and obtained a BSc degree from Vijaya College.

He lived with his brothers, Ramprasad and Sridhar, on the family’s ancestral property — Sridhar Farm in Hejjala, located on the Bangalore-Mysore Highway (about 25 km from the City). His parents, B V Nagaraj and Sharada, passed away in 1977 and 1985, respectively. 

A third sibling, his younger sister Nagamani, is married.

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