Arshad Ali, a resident of Saadatganj who was adamant on offering namaz at the mall, was also detained by the police.
NEW DELHI – Amidst the raging controversy over a video of namaz (prayer) performed inside the newly-opened Lulu Mall in Lucknow, the UP Police arrested four people including three Hindutva activists who tried to hold a programme in the mall for the recitation of Sundarkand (hymn devoted to Hindu god Hanuman) on Friday evening. A youth who had reached there to offer namaz was also detained.
Mall Authorities Ban Religious Acts
The mall authorities responded to the developments by putting up notice boards at several spots inside the mall urging visitors to refrain from performing religious acts within the premises.
Reports said Kiran Tiwari, wife of the slain leader of Hindu Samaj Party Kamlesh Tiwari, has been placed under house arrest. Kamlesh Tiwari was killed in October 2019 by unidentified assailants purportedly on the suspicion of blasphemy. ADCP Southern Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, while confirming the arrest of the four men on Friday, disclosed that Kiran Tiwari was also involved in the call for the recitation of Sundarkand at the Lulu Mall.
Those detained for attempting to hold Sundarkand recitation on the mall premises have been identified as Sarojnath Yogi of Bhadohi, Krishna Kumar Pathak of Jaunpur, Gaurav Goswami, a resident of Bharthana in Etawah. All the three men identified themselves as members of the Hindu Samaj Party. On the other hand, Arshad Ali, a resident of Saadatganj who was adamant on offering namaz at the mall, was also detained by the police. A case has been registered against them under sections for breach of peace.
It was Hindu Mahasabha leader Shishir Chaturvedi who first raised the objection to the namaz offered inside the mall on July 13. He had given the call for recitation of Sundarkand at 6 pm on Friday. This prompted the manager of the mall, Sameer Verma, to visit Shishir at his house to dissuade him from the programme with an apology for the namaz. Later, the Mahasabha postponed the Sundarkand recitation programme. After this, security of the mall was also increased.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attended the inauguration ceremony of Lulu Mall as chief guest on July 11. Two days later, on July 13, a video went viral on social media showing some people offering Namaz in the mall premises. Following this, some Hindu organisations, including the All India Hindu Mahasabha, came out to oppose the Muslim prayer inside the mall. They dubbed the newly-inaugurated mall a mosque built in the name of the mall.
As the controversy over namaz inside mall grew, public relations officer of the mall lodged a complaint against unknown people at Sushant Gold City police station with an assurance that no such act would be allowed inside the mall again.