Two Iskcon men killed in Donbas region of Ukraine


LONDON: Two Western Krishna devotees from Iskcon who were serving prasad to civilians in the war-torn Donbas region of eastern Ukraine have been killed in a rocket attack. A third devotee was pulled from the rubble and is recovering in hospital.
The two men were killed on Saturday night in Alchevsk, in Luhansk region, after returning from the villages where they were distributing prasad. Alchevsk is currently under the occupation of Moscow-backed separatist forces.
Krishna-Tattva Prabhu, director of the Food for All Luhansk mission and president of Iskcon in Alchevsk, and Madana-Gopal Prabhu, were killed in a missile strike that hit the Food For Life kitchen and destroyed it, leaving them both dead under the rubble. Another devotee, Arjuna Prabhu, was pulled from under the rubble alive and has been taken to hospital. The programme provided over 1,000 hot prasad meals weekly to civilians in the Donbas region and also carried out charity programmes. Both devotees who passed away were pujaris in the local temple.
They had been using a £25,000 van, food and kitchen equipment purchased in London and donated by London charity Food for All. The van had its windows blown out.
Parasuram Das, an Irish Krishna devotee, started the charity Food for All whilst working as a cook at the Iskcon London Soho restaurant in 1988. Now he has a kitchen in central London that cooks 3,500 meals a day for the homeless and recently he started setting up field kitchens in Ukraine and the surrounding countries.
He claims it was a Ukrainian rocket donated by the US that killed them. He said the people they were feeding were mainly elderly farmers with nothing to eat. “War brings out the worst in people and the best. This was a precision weapon. The Ukrainians have bombed that town before as it the part of Ukraine that identifies with Russia. Whoever is on that side of the country is likely to be pro-Russian. The devotees are just welfare workers feeding people. We don’t pick sides, none of us do,” he told TOI.
The nationality of the devotees is not yet confirmed but thought to be Ukrainian. “There are 4,000 devotees in Ukraine and loads of big temples. Ukraine is full of Hare Krishnas. It is massive in Ukraine,” Das said.
Money for the Ukraine Food for All project was donated by various rock stars, including Chrissie Hynde, and high-profile donors. Indian spiritual leader Morari Bapu made a large donation.
Das said the tragedy would not set back his project. “We are now planning on rebuilding the kitchen and getting a field kitchen going in the meantime to keep the show on the road. None of the devotees have got up and left – they are all determined to keep going. Russians will probably use this as propaganda,” he added.





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