Several UK-based Dalit organisations, academics and students have demanded the dismissal of Union ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya for their alleged roles in the case related to the suicide by research student Rohith Vemula.
A letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a candlelight vigil outside the Indian high commission in the Strand also called for the dismissal of Appa Rao Podile, vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad.
The letter to Modi was signed by Satpal Muman (CasteWatchUK), Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group), Ravi Kumar (Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance), and Santosh Dass (Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK).
Others included Jograj Ahir (Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Southall), Ramesh Klaire (Shri Guru Ravidas Global Human Rights Organisation UK), Eugene Culas (Voice of Dalits International), Ananya Rao-Middleton (Cambridge South Asia Watch), and Shruti Iyer (King’s College London Feminist Society).
The letter, which sought urgent action to end alleged institutional discrimination against Dalits in institutions of higher education, set out the circumstances of Vemula’s death, and said the suicide was a reminder of the alleged “continuing systematic violations of the principles of equality and justice enshrined in the Constitution”.
It said, “We call on you Mr Modi to take the strongest possible action to address these deep-rooted institutionalised injustices and to dismiss your own ministers who have blatantly subverted democratic processes in this case.”