A video allegedly showing a group of women from the Valmiki community being denied entry to a temple in the western Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr district is being investigated by the police. The incident, which is believed to have happened on October 25, was captured in a six-minute-long video, reportedly shot on a mobile phone by one of the women, which surfaced online on Wednesday.
In the video, a man wearing a black shirt can be seen standing in front of a closed gate while women's voices can be heard demanding to know why he is scared of allowing them to worship at the temple. The man, believed to be from an upper caste, replies: "Why should I be scared of you?" before turning away to speak to someone on his mobile phone.
"If someone listens to this thought (banning the entry of women), they will be ashamed," one of the women, whose face is not visible, retorts. Other voices can be heard declaring that they had the right to worship and would not leave from the temple gates till they were allowed in.
To this the man points a finger at the speaker and warns her: "Aaram se baat kar (speak politely)". "If you want to hit us, then hit us. But we will sit here... we will stay here," a woman responds.
"Why don't you kill us here? We will die here. Bring lathis... we will continue sitting here. We will not leave. Bring the whole village here. Let them see," another woman says.
The man in the black shirt, who is still on his phone at this stage, then tells the women the property and the temple belongs to "thakurs", who are the upper caste.
"Why should I hit you? This property belongs to thakurs," he says, adding, "Thakurs and brahmins have been praying here for a long time," drawing outrage and angry responses from the women.
"This is a temple, a temple," one woman shouts out.
The camera then zooms into the temple and shows a man wearing a white t-shirt locking the main door and walking to the gate. Both men then stand in front of the gate and stare at their mobile phones, while the women vociferously demand to be allowed to enter the temple.
As the argument continues the men become louder and more forceful in their rejection of the women. The video then pans to show at least 15 angry and agitated women standing clustered around the gate, along with a small group of school children.
NDTV has decided not to publish the video because it contains explicit remarks and language.
"These people used to pray here earlier but last week some men refused to allow them entry saying they would not be allowed because they were Dalits," Vijender Singh Valmiki, a community leader who complained to the police on behalf of the women, said.
"How long will discrimination like this continue... that too in this day and age? Do they want us to denounce Hinduism?" he added, alleging that some people had even been assaulted.
The police had registered a case of assault on October 25, under the SC/ST Act, about a man who had been assaulted by some others. This video - of the women being denied entry - is from the same area and was shot on the same day as the assault. A case has also been filed in this regard.
"In what appears to be a linked sequence of events, a video has gone viral. We are investigating and facts are being ascertained. We will act further in this case," Atul Shrivastava , a senior police officer in Bulandshahr district, said