London—ISKCON’s International Office of Child Protection (CPO) announced today that it has launched a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Kartik Sharma, who drowned while swimming in the pool of the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula International School (BGIS) in Vrindavana, India, on April 24.
Although preliminary reports have been unclear, what was reported to the CPO is that Kartik, 13, originally from New Delhi, was swimming with a group of classmates with an adult supervisor present. Kartik was a good swimmer and was swimming in the deeper end of the pool.
The International CPO was informed that the students and teacher left the pool area and Kartik was not missed until they returned to the nearby ashram/living quarters. Upon realising that he was missing, the teacher and students rushed to the pool area and found his body in the pool. Efforts were made to resuscitate him and he was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared dead.
Prayer services for Kartik’s departed soul and for his family were held at the school in the days following his death.
“This boy’s death is a terrible tragedy,” said Kamalesh Krishna das, head of the International Child Protection Office. “The prayers of myself and devotees around the world go to Lord Krishna asking Him to care for Kartik and to console his family.”
“At the same time, we are deeply troubled that such an accident can occur at an ISKCON affiliated school,” said Kamalesh Krishna. “Srila Prabhupada mandated that we should take utmost care of our children.”
“The CPO investigation we hope will detail what happened and if something could have been done to prevent this tragic loss of life. It’s essential the BGIS does everything within their power to protect and care for their students,” Kamalesh Krishna said.
In addition to the instigation of a formal inquiry, Kamalesh Krishna has directed that the students at BGIS receive professional counselling to help them deal with this tragic occurrence. The students should also be allowed to return home rather than attend the last few weeks of classes should they wish. Finally, the pool is to be closed and is off limits until further notice.
Jan 23, 2022
Anandini Tikunov (8th-grade student)
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org