V. S. Sastrya

Other names: 

Vellala Srikantaya Sastrya, V. S. Sastry


30 Beaufort Road Edgbaston
Birmingham, B16 8HZ
United Kingdom
52° 29' 39.7248" N, 1° 48' 49.2156" W
Oriental Press Service
92 Fleet Street EC4A 2AT
United Kingdom
51° 30' 50.9292" N, 0° 6' 19.7784" W
Date of birth: 
14 Sep 1912
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Apr 1936
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

Spring 1936 - unknown


Sastrya arrived in Britain in Spring 1936 to train as a journalist. In December 1936 he approached the India League to offer his support for as long as he remained in the UK. According to India Office Records, Sastrya had found it difficult to find work as a journalist in the English Press. He worked for a while for the Orient Press Service and supplemented his income by working in the Indian Stores department. He later moved to the Midlands to take up work with Albert Herberts Ltd. in Coventry. He studied economics in evening classes and completed his course in July 1940. In 1941, he was working as a shop steward for Daimler and later as an Inspector in the Gauge Control Department of the BSA Works in Birmingham.

Sastrya was a committed socialist and was a driving force in organizing Indian workers in the Midlands. He was actively involved with the Indian Workers Association and became its secretary in October 1941. He drafted a constitution for the IWA and was instrumental in helping the IWA expand by setting up a central committee functioning from Birmingham with branches in Coventry, Bradford, Newcastle, Sheffield, Manchester and other towns and cities with large Indian communities in the UK. He also helped to set up a newsletter which was published in both English and Urdu. In order to pursue his work for the IWA more effectively he resigned from his BSA job on grounds of ill-health.

Sastrya was committed to protecting the interests of Indian workers in the UK, working with great enthusiasm and making full use of his organizational skills. He was a driving force for the expansion of the organization. He campaigned for Indian independence and was of the opinion that Indians had to publicize the cause of Indian independence not only to an Indian audience in Britain but amongst all people living in the UK. Sastrya’s work was instrumental in politicizing the Indian community living and working in the Midlands at the time.

He was employed by the Socialist Appeal, a Trotskyist journal, and was also a member of the Independent Labour Party. In 1944 he went on a tour to speak at a series of ‘Quit India’ demonstrations held in Birmingham, Coventry, Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. Sastrya also worked closely with Surat Alley as part of the Federation of Indian Associations in Great Britain. He lost his position as secretary of the organization when Akbar Ali Khan became its president in 1945 and pursued a policy of disengaging the IWA from the Federation of Indian Associations in Great Britain.


Surat Alley, Thakur Singh Basra, Fenner Brockway, Charan Singh Chima,  Akbar Ali Khan, Krishna Menon, Kartar Singh Nagra, Mohammed Hussain Noor, Karam Singh Overseer, Sayyif Manzu Hussain Shah, Sardar Shah, Natha Singh.

Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/645, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/646, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras