Days after Lucknow's Lulu Mall namaz controversy, police arrested eight people in Haridwar on Friday, 22 July, for allegedly offering namaz in public, while a similar case is being probed in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj.
Following a tip-off, Nizam (22), Nasim (52), Sajjad Ahmad (50), Mursalin (38), Ashraf (45), Asgar (37), Mustafa (35) and Ikram (47) were arrested in Haridwar's Shivalik Nagar colony late on Thursday for offering ‘namaz’ at a weekly market, Superintendent of Police (City) Swatantra Kumar said.
They were booked under Section 151 of CrPC (arrest to prevent commissioning of a cognisable offences) and were later granted bail by the subdivisional magistrate’s (SDM) court, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Haridwar Niharika Semwal told news agency ANI.
In another case, police launched a probe against a group in Prayagraj for offering namaz at the railway station on Thursday. Superintendent of Police (Railways) Siddharth Shankar Meena said that a "probe has been started into the matter and action will be taken according to the facts that will come out in the investigation."
On 15 July, Uttar Pradesh Police registered an FIR against several unknown persons under sections of 'promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion' and 'malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings', after offering namaz at Lucknow's Lulu mall. Four people were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on 19 July in connection with this.
The controversy flared following demands of several Hindu right wing groups, including Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM), seeking permission for a recital of Hanuman Chalisa in the mall premises.
'18-Second Namaz' at Lulu Mall, CCTV Suggests Conspiracy
CCTV footage shared by the Lulu Mall management revealed that the group of men were in the mall just to pray and film it.
Footage shows eight men entering the mall and going straight to pray. First, they went to the basement, then to the ground floor followed by the first floor but were stopped by the security guards.
On the second floor, six of them started praying while the other two were busy recording videos and taking photographs, the CCTV footage showed.
These men completed the prayer in 18 seconds flat.
After offering a 'hurried' namaz and filming it, they left the mall without any attempt to linger around.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Rajesh Kumar Shrivastava, who saw the footage said that the men had no clue about how namaz is offered.
(With inputs from National Herald, ANI, and PTI.)