People Offering Namaz at Lucknow Mall Booked for Promoting Religious Enmity
A controversy erupted after several men were seen offering namaz at the mall, leading to protests by Hindu groups.
The Quint DAILY
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The Uttar Pradesh police on Friday, 15 July, 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 a Lucknow shopping mall.
The FIR was registered by management of LuLu Mall against the several persons who were seen who were seen offering namaz in a video that went viral on social media on Thursday, 14 July.
In the FIR registered at the Sushant Golf City police station, the police has booked the unknown persons under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
Section 295A (Deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class)
Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion)
Section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint)
Section 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief)
Hindu Groups Allege Discrimination, Love Jihad: What Happened on Thursday
A video of several people offering namaz in the premises of the mall went viral on social media.
The mall was inaugurated by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday and has been opened by Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group, led by Indian-origin billionaire Yussuf Ali M A.
Soon after the video went viral, some members of the right-wing group Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha reached outside the gates of the mall and staged a protest. They also sought permission from the local authorities to recite the Hanuman Chalisa near the mall on Friday.
"People from a particular community are being allowed to offer namaz inside the mall. The mall authorities should also allow Hindus and people for other communities to offer prayers," Sishir Charturvedi, who identified himself as the national spokesman of the Mahasabha, told PTI.
Chaturvedi alleged that he and other members of the Mahasabha were not allowed to enter the mall.
Meanwhile, some police personnel from nearby Sushant Golf City police station reached outside the mall to maintain law and order.
Later, Chaturvedi along with Mahasabha members filed a complaint.
"Namaz was offered inside the Mall which is against the state government's decision of not allowing namaz in public places," reads the complaint.
The complaint alleged that 70 percent of the mall staff are men from the Muslim community while the rest 30 percent are women from Hindu community.
"By doing so they are practising love Jihad," the complaint added demanding an investigation into the matter.
'Respect All Religions, But...': What Mall Authorities Said
Sameer Verma, general manager the mall in Lucknow, in a video statement said, "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."
He, however, did not make any comment on the controversy related to the offering of namaz on the mall premises.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Gopal Krishna Choudhary said, "The complaint filed with the police is being looked into.”
The Lulu group has invested Rs 2,500 crores in Uttar Pradesh for several developmental projects.
PM Narendra Modi was also present at the groundbreaking ceremony of Lulu Group's projects last month.
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