Shyam Bhatia in London
UK-based NRIs are planning a continuing series of protest rallies in solidarity with the family of the Delhi rape victim who died in a Singapore hospital.
Sunday night’s planned demonstration at Hounslow Heath, close to London’s Heathrow airport, was being organised by a former Delhi police inspector, Darshan Singh Grewal, whose family originate from Ludhiana.
Grewal served for 10 years in the Delhi police force before leaving for the UK in 1990. He is currently an elected member of the Hounslow local council. Grewal, who also once represented India in national basketball, said he was saddened and sickened by what had happened in Delhi.
“We will continue the protests, we will continue putting pressure on the Indian government”, he told The Tribune.
Grewal was also a participant in the first NRI rally held last Saturday when demonstrators gathered next to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Tavistock Square, central London, before marching to the nearby office of the Indian High Commission.
A letter submitted to the High Commission for onward transmission to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh read: “We as concerned citizens of India are deeply saddened by the news of the 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang raped and assaulted in Delhi last week. Sir, we non-resident Indians staying in the United Kingdom have gathered near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Tavistock Square, London, and signed this petition to request of India the following:
1. Introduce strict laws against rapists.
2. Introduce the fast track courts to resolve sexual assault cases.”
A High Commission official who accepted the letter responded by saying: “I also mourn for the demise of the lady and feel the same as everyone in the protest. The letter will be delivered to the PM’s office.” Saturday’s march was organised by the Pravasi Bharat organisation which has campaigned in the past for NRIs to use a postal ballot in future Indian elections.
The head of Pravasi Bharat, 31-year-old IT consultant Nagender Chindam, told The Tribune: “Even though we are staying abroad, it doesn’t mean we are unconcerned. We too want the nation to flourish and be a happy, peaceful place. That’s why we have showed our concern.”
Chindam, originally from Hyderabad, added: “A lot of our volunteers are waiting for a reply to the letter. Otherwise we will plan more protests and next time outside the High Commission office. All we can assure you is that we will not give up.”