4 arrested for offering namaz in Lucknow’s LuLu Mall: Police
Some people recorded the eight offering prayers in Lucknow’s LuLu Mall and shared the video clip on social media leading to a major controversy over prayers inside a public place
LUCKNOW Four men have been arrested for offering namaz in Lucknow’s newly opened LuLu Mall without authorisation on July 12, the Lucknow Police said in a statement on Tuesday.
The four who were arrested have been identified as Mohd Rehan of Lucknow, Atif Khan of Mohammadi in Lakhimpur Kheri district and two brothers, Mohd Lokman Ali and Mohd Noman Ali, of Laharpur, Sitapur.
Lucknow Commissioner of Police (CP) DK Thakur said the four men visited the mall on July 12 with a minor and three women and offered namaz on the premises. He said all eight people involved had been identified and action was being taken accordingly.
Clips of people allegedly offering namaz in the mall surfaced on July 13. HT was not able to independently verify where the clips were recorded.
On July 14, the mall management, which was criticised for allowing people to offer namaz, filed a first information report (FIR) against unidentified people under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
On the basis of the video clips, right-wing Hindu groups objected to people offering namaz inside the mall and sought permission from authorities to recite Hanuman Chalisa there, which was declined.
On July 15, three people identified as Saroj Nath Yogi, Krishna Kumar Pathak and Gaurav Goswami were arrested for trying to recite Hanuman Chalisa inside the mall. The same day, a fourth man, Arshad Ali, was arrested for trying to offer namaz inside the mall. They were booked for causing nuisance and arrested as a preventive measure.
On July 16, two men were arrested while trying to offer puja on the eastern boundary of the mall and shouting slogans. On July 17, over two dozen people affiliated with a Hindu outfit were prevented from holding a protest outside the mall. Police said the vehicles of five activists of the outfit who intended to protest against the mall management were stopped and forced to return by the police.
The mall was formally inaugurated by chief minister Yogi Adityanath on July 10 and was opened to the public the following day.
On Monday night, Adityanath directed the administration to act strictly against elements “hell-bent on vitiating the atmosphere” and emphasised that there should be no politics against the working of the mall.
Speaking at a meeting of government officials, the CM added that people must follow norms laid down by the administration with regard to offering prayers. He also frowned at the obstruction of roads by staging protests over unnecessary issues, officials familiar with the developments said.
“The Lulu mall that is carrying out business activities has been turned into a political hotbed. Unnecessary statements are being made by certain people. Demonstrations are being organised to obstruct the movement of the people visiting the mall… Miscreants trying to create a disturbance in the mall should be dealt with strictly,” the chief minister said at the meeting, according to government officials who attended.
The mall had released a video statement regarding the incident. “Lulu Mall respects all religions. Any kind of religious work or prayer is not permitted here. We train our floor staff and security staff to keep an eye on such activities,” the mall’s general manager, Sameer Verma, said.