The Lucknow Police, on Friday, 15 July, issued a press note wherein they mentioned that four people had been arrested for trying to disrupt religious harmony in LuLu Mall in the city.
The press note identified the people as:
Saroj Nath Yogi
Krishna Kumar Pathak
This press note was shared all over social media to claim that the people involved in offering namaz at LuLu Mall on 12 July were in fact Hindus posing as Muslims.
On Monday, 18 July, the Lucknow Police issued another press note on Twitter clarifying that the arrests made on 15 July were in separate incident and that the Hindu men were arrested for reciting Hanuman Chalisa on the mall premises without permission.
As per the last update available at the time of filing the story, Lucknow Police arrested four people for offering namaz on 12 July. The people who were arrested, were identified as Mohammed Rehan, Aatif Khan, Mohammed Lokman, and Mohammed Noman, all of whom were residents of Lucknow.
Lucknow Police's First Press Release
The 15 July press release stated that four people from different religions tried to perform religious activities in LuLu Mall without permission. It added that the intention was to disturb the communal harmony.
The press release further added that the police had also invoked section 144 of the CrPC in the case and sent the four arrested persons to judicial custody.
Claims About Hindus Offering Namaz Go Viral
Citing this press note, social media users started claiming that the original incident of offering of namaz (12 July) in the mall, was staged by the three Hindu persons, identified by the police in the note.
Some users shared the screenshot of the note and said, "These [Hindu] people posed as Muslims and offered namaz."
Others just shared the names from the press release and linked it with the 12 July incident.
Those sharing the claim included Radio Jockey Sayema, senior journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani, and Congress leader Salman Nizami, however, Nizami later deleted it.
Lucknow Police Issues Clarification
Following the furore, Lucknow Police on Monday, 18 July, refuted the claims made in the viral posts and said that the people involved in the 12 July incident had not been identified.
Talking about the investigation, the press note by Police Commissionerate Lucknow when translated from Hindi said, "On 12.07.2022, a video had gone viral on social media about offering Namaz in LuLu Mall premises, in connection with this, a case was registered by the management of the mall on the Sushant Golf City police station on 14.07.2022 against unknown people under Sections 153A(1)/295A/341/505. None of the accused in the registered case has been identified yet."
"After that on 15.07.2022, 1. Saroj Nath Yogi, 2. Krishna Kumar Pathak, 3. Gaurav Goswami tried to read Hanuman Chalisa and 4. Arshad Ali tried to offer Namaz against the above four persons under section 151,107,116 CrPC.," the statement added.
The statement further added that cases had been registered against several other people under sections 151,107, 116 of CrPC for shouting slogans with the aim of disturbing communal harmony near the western boundary of the mall.
Police also asked people to not spread misinformation regarding the incident.
However, Indian National Congress' mouthpiece National Herald published an article in which they claimed that the men seen in the viral video didn't know how to offer namaz and claimed that the people in the video were in a hurry to complete the namaz.
The portal mentioned that Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Rajesh Kumar Shrivastava "has conceded that the footage made it clear that the men had no clue about how Namaz is offered."
Speaking to The Hindu on 18 June, Shrivastava denied media reports that claimed that people who offered namaz on 12 July were non-Muslims.
“I can’t comment on the news reports appearing in the media outlets but the investigation is on and we would soon come out with details of the persons who offered Namaz on the premises,” he told The Hindu.
While the initial press note from the Lucknow Police led to the confusion, the police clarified in the second note that the arrests were not in connection with the incident that occurred on 12 July.
We have reached out to Additional DCP Shrivastava for a comment and the article will be updated when we receive a response.
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