BY RATI KUMAR
A Living by the principles of non-violence and peace, Hari Kirtan Das a.k.a. Harish Roy, 24, a devout member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was shot and killed in a robbery on the evening of March 22, whilst working as the sales clerk at the West End Stop N Shop in the 700 block of Lee Street.
The surveillance cameras showed two men, later identified as Yusef Cantrell, 27 and Damian Grover, 28, entering the store. Cantrell allegedly, asked to buy something off the shelf behind Harish. As Harish was procuring the item, the gunman jumped over the counter through the opening in the cashier’s cage. He then shot and killed Harish, and made his getaway with the stolen cash.
“It was like a nightmare”, recalls Akhilatma Priya Das, Prayer Director of ISKCON Atlanta and a childhood friend of Harish. Akhilatma learned of the fatal shooting at around 11 p.m. from a fellow devotee. He remembers a feeling of dread and fear – “I feared someone was coming to shoot me too”, he remarks. He attributes this irrational fear to the complete shock of hearing of a dear friend’s death.
Having come to America in 2005, Harish was an active member of the ISKCON community and a very active young man. Akhilatma notes, “Harish was deeply involved in sports and physical fitness and was a proponent of activities like Karate and Yoga.” The strength and patience Harish derived from these activities translated into hard work and helpfulness at his second home - the ISKCON temple.
An alumnus of ISKCON’s Mayapur gurukula school in India, Harish was the only bread-winner in his family and regularly sent money home to his mother and brother. To aid Harish’s family in India, funds are being collected by the ISKCON temple of Atlanta.
The funeral service for Harish was held on March 28, and was attended by several devotees and friends. On June 5, the Atlanta Temple Panihati Festival will open with a 24 hour Bhajan session in Harish’s honor.
The three suspects involved in the murder Cantrell , Grover and the getaway driver Xstavius Shreve, 30, are currently in police custody. When asked about the perpetrators of the crime, Akhilatama says, “I wish I could preach to them about what a big loss it is to take another person’s life. I wish I could change their consciousness.”