Lucknow: 2 more held in Lulu Mall namaz row; total 7 arrested

Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday held two more persons in connection with the “unauthorised” offering of namaz at a shopping mall here, taking the total number of arrests to seven.

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Rajesh Kumar Srivastav said, “Irfan Ahmed and Saud, residents of Sadatganj area in Lucknow, were arrested. The accused were among the people who offered religious prayers in the mall premises without permission.” The fresh arrests come days after the police nabbed a fifth accused in the case.

The officer said efforts are being made to arrest other accused in the case.

None of those arrested is a staff member of Lulu Mall, which was inaugurated recently by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The arrests have been made after Adityanath Monday directed the administration to act tough against elements “hell-bent on vitiating the atmosphere” in the state.

A video of people offering namaz at Lulu Mall had surfaced on social media on July 13.

The incident kicked up a row after a right-wing Hindu outfit objected to the namaz being offered on the mall premises and sought permission to recite the 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, had 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.

The local police have beefed up security near the mall in Shaheed Path area following the incident.

The mall, belonging to Abu Dhabi based Lulu group, was inaugurated by Adityanath earlier this month in presence of senior party leaders.

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