On July 10, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated LuLu Mall in Lucknow. The grand opening witnessed a footfall of over one lakh people. Two days later, on July 12, an unidentified group of men offered namaz inside the shopping arcade. A footage of the incident was widely circulated online. Shortly after, an FIR was filed by the mall’s public relations manager Sibtain Hussain at the Sushant Golf City police station.
Subsequently, members of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha staged a protest outside the mall and sought permission from the local authorities to recite Hanuman chalisa. On July 15, four people attempted to carry out religious prayers inside the mall premise. On July 16, two youths recited Hanuman chalisa while sitting right below a mall notice forbidding religious prayers. All of them were soon arrested. Those who seek to follow key events related to this controversy can read this report by The Quint.
On July 18, National Herald, a national newspaper linked to the Indian National Congress (INC), reported, “Even as Lucknow Police claim to have launched a manhunt for miscreants who offered Namaz at the mall on Wednesday, CCTV footage exposes they were novices and probably non-Muslims.” (Archived link)
Even as Lucknow Police claim to have launched a manhunt for miscreants who offered Namaz at the #LuluMall on Wednesday, CCTV footage expose they were novices and probably non-Muslims https://t.co/p3SNo004et
— National Herald (@NH_India) July 17, 2022
Journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani shared the report by National Herald and made the claim that “Sanghis are reading namaz in Lucknow”. She later deleted her tweet. Others who shared this report include columnist M Reyaz, Scroll’s editor Naresh Fernandes, Twitter user Hana Moshin Khan, Popular Front of India’s general secretary Anis Ahmed, and Milli Gazette editor Zafarul-Islam Khan.
On the same day, journalist Rohini Singh tweeted, “So it turns out that those offering the namaaz at Lulu mall in Lucknow were actors who probably wanted to create social unrest.” This tweet gained over 2,000 retweets. (Archived link)
On July 18, several social accounts shared a press note by Sushant Golf City PS claiming that Hindus have been arrested for reciting namaz. This was based on the four Hindu names mentioned in the press note. Aman Dubey, spokesperson for Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress (archived link); UP-based journalist Wasiuddin Siddiqui (archived link), and Sanyukt Kisan Morcha member Himmat Singh Gurjar (archived link).
The Jamia Times editor Ahmed Khabeer also made this claim. His tweet was quoted tweeted by Radio Mirchi’s Sayema. Congress leader Pawan Khera and Dr Pooja Tripathi made the same claim. All of them have deleted their tweets.
Several Facebook accounts also made this claim, including ‘With INC‘. Their post gained over 900 shares.
Taking a cue from the viral tweets, Alt News looked up Twitter handle @DCP_South. It is the official account of DCP South Lucknow. They shared a press note on July 15.
— DCP South Lucknow (@DCP_South) July 15, 2022
The press note stated, “On 15.07.2022, religious activities were attempted by four people from different religions and communities in Lulu Mall without permission. Their intention was to disturb the communal harmony”. This press note is not related to the namaz offering which took place on July 12 as per the mall’s public relations manager Sibtain Hussain. The press note talks about an incident where four people offered prayers on July 15
Three days later, on July 18, Police Commissionerate Lucknow tweeted another press note explaining the same. It stated that none of the accused related to events of July 12 in the registered case have been identified. The police further added that on July 15, Saroj Nath Yogi; Krishna Kumar Pathak and Gaurav Goswami tried to read Hanuman chalisa and Arshad Ali tried to offer namaz. The police have charged them under The Code of Criminal Procedure sections 151[Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences],107 [Security for keeping the peace in other cases], and 116 [Inquiry as to truth of information].
सोशल मीडिया पर लू-लू मॉल प्रकरण के सम्बन्ध में कुछ युवकों का नाम लेकर भ्रामक खबरें प्रसारित की जा रही है, जो कि पूर्णतया असत्य है ।
— POLICE COMMISSIONERATE LUCKNOW (@lkopolice) July 18, 2022
The Hindu reported the Lucknow Police denied media reports that the eight persons who were caught on camera offering namaz in Lulu Mall on July 12 were non-Muslims.
On July 19, the UP police arrested four persons in connection with the July 12 incident — Md Rehan, Atif Khan, Md Lokman, and Md Noman.
— POLICE COMMISSIONERATE LUCKNOW (@lkopolice) July 19, 2022
To sum it up, on July 12, eight unidentified men offered namaz in the premises of LuLu Mall, Lucknow. On July 15, a group of four men also offered prayers inside the mall. This was a symbolic protest against the earlier incident where the police were yet to identify the men and make arrests. These four men were arrested on the same day. While three of them were Hindus who recited the Hanuman Chalisa, one among the group was Muslim and he offered namaz, as per the police. The arrests led to confusion, with journalists and social media users linking it with the July 12 incident. It was claimed that Hindus offered namaz on July 12 to malign the Muslim community. Furthermore, the National Herald published a story on July 18 claiming that those arrested in the July 12 incident were “probably non-Muslims”. However, the police arrested four people in the July 12 incident. This was on July 19 and all four of them were Muslims.
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