A renowned astrophysicist from Vadodara who is now settled in US has alleged that he, along with his three friends, was thrown out from a garba venue in Atlanta on Friday by the organisers because their surnames “didn’t appear to be Hindu”.

Karan Jani (29), who in 2016 had made it to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team in US that discovered the gravitational waves, took to Twitter and Facebook to allege that he was thrown out of the venue by the organisers at Sri Shakti Mandir. Jani, who said he had been doing garba at this venue for the last six years and had never faced any such problem, said he spoke to the organisers in Gujarati, but they refused to budge.

He narrated his account along with a video on social media and wrote: “Year 2018 & Shakti Mandir in Atlanta, USA denied me and my friends entry from playing garba because: ‘You don’t look Hindu and last name in your IDs don’t sound Hindu’.”

Talking to TOI on phone from Atlanta, Jani said that when one of his friends gave the volunteers at the temple his ID proof, they said he won’t be allowed because his surname ended with ‘wala’ and it didn’t seem to be a Hindu sur name.

Jani tweeted that one of the volunteers pulled one of his friends out of the queue. She is a Konkani who had come to the garba for the first time. He posted on Twitter that the volunteer told her, “We don’t come to your events, you are not allowed to ours.” Jani said when she told the volunteer that her last name was Murdeshwar and that she was a Kannada-Marathi, the volunteer said: “What is Kannada? You are Ismaili.”

Jani said he had never faced such discrimination “even from the Americans during my 12 years of stay here”.

“They behaved very rudely with my two female friends. Imagine, they illtreated women during a festival dedicated to worshipping a Goddess. I had tears in my eyes,” he said. An email sent to Shri Shakti Mandir remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

Jani said he received a call from the temple’s management later and added that the chairman apologised saying the temple doesn’t believe in such discrimination. “He said it was miscommunication on the part of the volunteers. But the treatment meted out to us was embarrassing,” Jani said.

Jani said the organisers told him he didn’t ‘look Hindu’ and his last name on his ID card didn’t ‘sound Hindu’