Hyderabad Central University Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula's mother Radhika (pictured above) and brother Raja converted to Buddhism in Mumbai on Thursday, reported ANI. Dr BR Ambedkar's grandson Prakash Ambedkar oversaw the formal ceremony that was held at the Ambedkar Bhavan in Dadar at noon on the 125th birth anniversary of the Dalit icon. Rohith, 27, had killed himself in his hostel room on January 17 after alleging discrimination on caste lines by the university administration.

Before leaving for Mumbai on Wednesday, Raja Vemula said his mother felt they should convert to Buddhism as it does not have an oppressive caste system like Hinduism. The family said Rohith Vemula was a Buddhist at heart though he did not convert formally.

“My brother Rohith took his own life because he was discriminated against as he was a Dalit. We performed his last rites according to Buddhist traditions, honouring his love for Buddhism. Rohith used to talk of Buddhism a lot. He had also written a letter to the VC about how Dalits are discriminated against in the campus,” he told The Indian Express. He said both his mother and he were against the caste system in the Hindu religion.