B.N. Sudarshan, a native of Ramanagaram, near Bangalore, is among the 62 people killed during the siege of a mall in Kenyan capital Nairobi, which began on Saturday.
Mr. Sudarshan’s elder brother Ramprasad confirmed to The Hindu here on Tuesday that the officials from the Indian Embassy in Kenya communicated to them the tragic news of his brother’s death in the terror strike late on Monday.
Mr. Sudarshan (50), a bachelor, was running the export wing of Om Sree Engineers & Consultants from Ghana. Mr. Ramprasad said that Mr. Sudarshan had left for Kenya on Friday on a business trip. “He had about two hours work in Kenya as he also deals with the publication and distribution of books for schoolchildren in Kenya. He was set to leave for Uganda on Sunday. But, he got shot at the mall,” he rued.
Mr. Ramprasad said that Mr. Sudarshan had last spoken to the family on Saturday at 1.30 p.m. (local time). “He was cheerful and even inquired about the health of thespian Dilip Kumar,” he said.
His family members, however, grew anxious after hearing the news of the shooting in Nairobi, but they had no inkling that Mr. Sudarshan would become a victim of the attack. “We wanted to check on him, but we didn’t know where he was lodged as he stays in various hotels during his trips,” Mr. Ramprasad said.
“My daughter Aditi, who lives in the U.S., is very close to Sudarshan and she knew the password of his email account. She logged into his account and found a mail containing the hotel details. I immediately called the hotel on Monday. They said he had left the room on Saturday morning and had not returned. His luggage, however, was still in the room. I then contacted the Indian Embassy and asked them about his whereabouts.” Mr. Ramprasad said that the authorities from the Indian Embassy had then identified Mr. Sudarshan from an ID card in his pocket that turned out to be his Ghana registered driver’s licence.
“During verification, I had informed the authorities that he had shaved his head as he had recently been to Tirumala,” he said.
To reconfirm his identity, the embassy officials sent the family a picture of Mr. Sudarshan. He had been shot in the head and the wounds were terrible, Mr. Ramprasad said.
The embassy officials have informed the family that the body will arrive in Bangalore on Thursday. Four of Mr. Sudarshan’s friends from Ghana will be arriving for the funeral.
Three Indians killed
Mr. Sudarshan’s death takes the total number of Indians killed in the Westgate mall terror attack in Nairobi to three. The other two are eight-year-old Paramshu Jain, son of the Bank of Baroda manager in Kenya, and 40-year-old Sridhar Natarajan, an employee of a pharmaceutical firm.
Mr. Sudarshan’s brother-in-law, Govinda Prasad, said the victim was a thorough gentleman and extremely helpful and generous. “He was very optimistic and believed in living in the present. He had trained many young boys in the company,” he said.
Mr. Sudarshan was the youngest of four siblings. He has two elder brothers Ramprasad and Sridhar, besides a sister Nagamani . They all live together in Hejjala, near Bidadi, in Ramanagaram district. He moved to Ghana in 2004.
Mr. Sudarshan’s family friend and business associate, Nagaraj, said that he usually made two trips in a month to Africa for his export business. He said Mr. Sudarshan was working with the officials in Kenya regarding a tablet-based programme for schools there.
“He would get books published in India based on orders from clients in Africa before shipping them for distribution in African schools. His main business, however, is based in Ghana, be it export of construction equipment or distribution of books, which is supplied to more than 100 schools there,” he said.
“Mr. Sudarshan started his business in 1998 and many young boys have been trained under him. They are now managing another office in Bidadi. He has sown the seeds, but is not here to see the yield of fruits,” Mr. Ramprasad said.
The Ministry of External Affairs is believed to have assured the family that the body will be sent to India soon.