Priestess in Kanpur defends temple cleaning post Dalit women charges(Updated)

| Updated: Jul 15, 2016 17:58 IST

Kanpur, July 15 (ANI): Refuting charges of caste discrimination, the priestess at Chaturbhuj Temple in Mangalpur village of Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur city have said that cleaning of the premises is a regular affair. The clarification came after Dalit women alleged that the authorities of the temple, where she had gone to offer prayers, cleansed the temple with 'Gangajal' after she left. Babita, the priestess of the temple, stated that they never deny entry into the temple. "Temple closes at 12, she came at 1 and forcefully asked me to let her enter and we did. I usually wash the temple at 12 during the closing time. That is my work," she said. Kanpur Additional Superintendent of Police, Rishipal Singh, said that this was a false allegation. "The people had gone to perform pooja when the temple was closed. It is a usual custom all across the world that there are specific timings for temples to open and close," he told ANI. "These women had reached the temple when it was closed. The priestess at the temple at first denied entry, but when they insisted she allowed them to enter. They also wanted to enter the garbhagriha and perform the puja. The priestess initially declined, but when they insisted she allowed them to perform the puja at the sanctum sanctorum of the temple," he added. Sunita, a member of the Valmiki community, told ANI that the priestess sprinkled gangajal in the temple premises to clean it soon after they offered their prayers. "We went to perform the puja on Friday. As soon as we reached, the temple authorities closed down the gates. They told us that gates of the temple would not be opened as we are Dalits. But later on she allowed us to enter," said Sunita. "As soon as we finished the puja, she threw the prasad in the pond and sprinkled gangajal in the temple premises to clean it," she added. Bitani Devi, the other Dalit woman, said that she had come to the temple to pray for her daughter's marriage. One of the other ladies, who also went to perform the pooja, said that it was not the first time that this has happened. "It is not for the first time that such an incident has taken place. Earlier also, she used to put locks at the gate. They told us that the people of the Valmiki Community cannot enter the temple premises because the gods will then become untouchable," she said. (ANI)