A video of a woman shooing away sanitation workers standing on the pavement in front of her house is viral on social media. The woman asks the female workers to stand afar. Once they recede, she walks out of her home and places a bottle on the road, repeatedly gesturing to them to stand at a distance. They pick up the bottle only after she goes back inside the gate of her house.

The video is being shared with the claim that it shows how caste-based discrimination is rampant in India.

Twitter page The Dalit Voice (@ambedkariteIND) shared the above-mentioned clip on August 19 with the following caption: “This video will tell you why reservation is necessary. Has this discrimination happened with any Brahmin Baniya Thakur person ?” The tweet has received over 1.5 Lakh views and has been retweeted over 1,700 times. (Archive)

Other users such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal member Prashant Kanojia (@KanojiaPJ), Twitter Blue user @Bacteria_Offl and media outlet True Media also shared the same clip with similar claims. Other media outlets such as Ritham TV and Sathiyam News also shared the video but they didn’t add any context related to the incident.

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Fact Check

We noticed that under The Dalit Voice’s tweet, several users mentioned that this video was shot for awareness purposes during the Covid lockdown period.

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We broke down the video into several keyframes and ran a reverse image search on a few of them. This led us to a tweet by the user @guppystweet who had shared the viral video on June 22, 2020, at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic.

Under The Dalit Voice’s tweet, a user also shared the link to a video by news outlet Asianet Newsable. The YouTube video is titled: “House owner ‘refuses’ to give drinking water to pourakarmikas; viral video brings awareness” and was published on June 24, 2020. The ‘pourakarmikas’ are sanitation workers under the civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

The description of the YouTube video says: “Bengaluru: The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) pourakarmikas are not just limited to keeping the city clean, some also try to bring in hidden talent in them. When the city is gripped with fear following the increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, the pourakarmikas who are the most vulnerable, hit upon the concept of creating a video. In the first viral video, among two pourakarmika women, one plays the role of an arrogant house owner and refuses to provide drinking water inside her home. The pourakarmika woman who came asking for water was shocked. In the next sequence, the arrogant lady came out of her house gate, placed a water bottle on the road and asked the pourakarmika to collect.”

It also says that “all the persons in the video were pourakarmikas from Singasandra ward in Bengaluru.

In the YouTube video, the ‘pourakarmikas’ can be heard saying in Kannada that they have been coming from far places during this pandemic to clean their assigned localities yet they are the ones who are being discriminated against because people fear they will contract Coronavirus infection from them.

The video was also acknowledged by Sarfaraz Khan, a special commissioner with BBMP, who can also be heard in the YouTube video saying that he appreciated the creative work done by the pourakarmikas in this video to bring awareness.

It is also worth noting that when the video went viral in 2020, many believed it to be a real incident, but later it came to light that the pourakarmikas themselves played different roles in this video to create awareness. Both the house owner woman and the ones in uniform are BBMP pourakarmika members.

Therefore, the viral clip of sanitation workers being mistreated is a scripted video made by BBMP workers as an effort to show how they were being treated during the Covid-19 pandemic. It does not show an actual incident of caste-based discrimination.

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