The Lucknow Police on Tuesday arrested four persons who allegedly offered namaz at the city’s newly-opened Lulu Mall.
Those arrested have been identified as Mohammad Rehan, Aatif Khan, Mohammad Lokman and Mohammad Noman. The police identified the accused persons after checking surveillance footage from the mall, the Lucknow Police Commissionerate said in a statement.
All four have been sent into judicial custody, the police said.
On July 12, a video of some persons offering namaz at the mall was shared widely on social media. Two days later, the police filed a first information report on July 14 against unidentified persons under Indian Penal Code sections 153A(1) (promoting enmity between groups), 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).
After the namaz video was shared on social media, members of the Hindutva outfit Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha protested outside the gate of the mall on July 14. They had demanded permission from the authorities to chant the Hanuman Chalisa near the mall.
“People from a particular community are being allowed to offer namaz inside the mall,” said Shishir Chaturvedi, a national spokesperson of the organisation. “The mall authorities should also allow Hindus and people from other communities to offer prayers.”
Later in the day, the Uttar Pradesh Police said that they have detained three persons for allegedly attempting to recite Sundarkand, a chapter dedicated to the deity Hanuman from the epic Ramayana, inside the mall premises.
Sameer Verma, the general manager of the mall, had said that the establishment respects all religions, but added that no religious prayers were allowed there. “We train our floor staff and security staff to keep an eye on such activities,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath inaugurated the mall on July 10. Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate Lulu Group, founded by Indian-origin billionaire Yussuf Ali MA, owns the establishment.