Two more persons were arrested. The two were accused of offering prayers in Lulu Mall without permission.
On Sunday, 24th July, two more people were arrested in association with the group offering namaz on the premises of Lulu Mall, Lucknow. The total number of arrests made is now at 7.
The Uttar Pradesh Police, detained the two along with the five others on account of the namaz being “unauthorized”. This means that the people praying in the mall were meant to authorize their intention to pray in Lulu Mall beforehand. However, their lack of permission led them to not only be expelled from the premises but also get arrested.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Rajesh Kumar stated that the two arrested are residents of Sadatganj, an area in Lucknow. Police have identified them as Irfan Ahmen and Saud. According to the ADCP, the people named were among the five others who offered prayers on the mall premises.
The arrest of these two came immediately after the police arrested the fifth person accused in this case. The police officer added that the police are taking all precautions and efforts to arrest the accused in this case.
Lulu Mall also made it abundantly clear that none of the people arrested were staff members of the mall. With that, they also cleared the thought of any involvement of the Lulu Mall staff in the apparent “unauthorized” namaz.
The mall had just recently opened its doors to the public. It was inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath.
Why were the arrests made?
Police made arrests soon after Yogi Aityanath directed the administration to do so. On Monday, Adityanath instructed the management to play tough and show no mercy towards the people and things that are hell-bent on corrupting the “atmosphere” of the mall and in the state.
The arrests were made after a snowball of circumstances came together by the power of social media. On the 13th of July, a group of people, praying at Lulu Mall, were video recorded by someone and posted to a social media website. The video then spread around, going viral. After the video started increasing the tension among the right-wingers, a right-wing Hindu outfit expressed their opposition to the prayers being offered.
They then went on to even seek permission to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in the mall. With very strong feelings towards the doings of the people in the video, some members decided to protest. The members of the group named Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha organized a sit-in at the entrance gate of Lulu Mall on the 14th of July.
A man named Shishir Chaturvedi, claiming to be the spokesperson of the group, said that people belonging to a particular community were being allowed to offer prayers in the mall. Chaturvedi continued by stating that the authorities must also permit Hindus and other religions to offer prayers in the mall premises.
Finally, Sameer Verma, the general manager of the mall in Lucknow spoke for Lulu Mall. He stated that Lulu Mall respects every religion. Further, the mall will not permit any kind of religious work or prayer by any religion. He added that they train their mall staff to keep an eye out for such activities.
Local police have increased security around and near the mall premises in Shaheed Path since then.
Should they have been arrested?
The tension continues to rise between the Hindu extremists and Muslim communities in India. There has been no point in recent times where harmony has prolonged among the communities for a long period of time. The unrest continues to rise.
Religion continues to be politicized to establish a sense of power. Communities come together only in rage instead of peace and tolerance.
However, the questions still remain. Do people have to be arrested for praying in a mall? And why were the strongest reactions only from the Mahasabha?