Lucknow: 2 more held in Lulu Mall namaz row; total 7 arrested
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday arrested two more people for offering “unauthorized” prayers at a shopping mall here, taking the total number of arrests to seven.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Rajesh Kumar Srivastava said, “Irfan Ahmed and Saud, residents of Sadatganj area of Lucknow, have been arrested. The accused were among those who offered prayers on the mall premises without permission. The fresh arrest comes days after the police arrested the fifth accused in the case.
Efforts are on to arrest the other accused in the case, the official said.
None of those arrested is a staff member of Lulu Mall, which was recently inaugurated by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The arrests came after Adityanath on Monday directed the administration to take strict action against elements “bent on spoiling the atmosphere” in the state.
A video of people offering namaz at Lulu Mald surfaced on social media on July 13.
The incident sparked controversy after a right-wing Hindu organization objected to offering prayers on the mall premises and sought permission to read Hanuman Chalisa there.
Some members of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha staged a sit-in at the gate of Lulu Mall on July 14.
Shishir Chaturvedi, who claimed to be the national spokesperson of the Mahasabha, had alleged that people belonging to a particular community were being allowed to offer prayers inside the mall.
The mall authorities should also allow Hindus and other religions to offer prayers inside the mall, he had said.
Sameer Verma, general manager of the mall in Lucknow, issued a video statement after the controversy, saying, “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.” On July 15, two people were arrested by police and at least 15 detained for creating a ruckus when they tried to enter the mall premises without permission.
Following the incident, the local police have beefed up security near the mall in the Shaheed Path area.
The mall, belonging to the Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group, was inaugurated by Adityanath earlier this month in the presence of senior party leaders.