Lulu Mall row: Police arrest 4, Yogi's warning to miscreants
Amid raging controversy over a viral video, the Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested four men who allegedly offered namaz on Lucknow's Lulu Mall premises. The police have also issued a press release rejecting claims that the men seen offering namaz in the video were non-Muslims. Two others were arrested earlier for disturbing religious harmony as UP CM Yogi Adityanath warned of strict action.
- A video of eight men offering namaz on the premises of the newly inaugurated Lulu Mall went viral on July 12, causing a furor among right-wing groups who reportedly issued warnings and sought permission to recite Sundarkand inside the mall.
- Since then, the police have detained several men from Hindu right-wing outfits for attempting to host religious ceremonies inside the mall.
The Lucknow Commissioner on Tuesday informed that four people were arrested on Friday (July 15) for attempting to perform religious rituals, of which three were Hindus and one was Muslim. The three men allegedly "tried to perform puja to disturb religious harmony," the police said. On Saturday (July 16), two men were arrested for attempting to recite Hanuman Chalisa, while 18 others were detained.
A video of people offering namaz inside the mall went viral only two days after CM Adityanath inaugurated it on July 10. The police lodged an FIR against unknown persons under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity) and 295A (deliberate act to outrage religious feelings) for offering namaz on July 12. Mall authorities have now put up notices reading, "No religious prayers will be permitted."
"Some people are making unnecessary remarks and staging demonstrations to obstruct the movement of people visiting the mall. The Lucknow administration must take this seriously. Miscreants attempting to create such nuisance should be dealt with strictly," CM Yogi Adityanath said, commenting on the issue.
Reacting to the row, Lulu Mall's parent company LuLu Group International also rubbished the charges of being biased toward Muslims. The statement was released after a right-wing outfit alleged that majority of its staff was Muslim. The Abu Dhabi-based group said about 80% of its employees are Hindus and added they are hired on the basis of "skill and merit, not religion or caste."