Lucknow Police on Monday refuted social media claims that three Hindu men identified in a police circular had disguised themselves as Muslims and offered namaz at LuLu Mall, as part of a conspiracy.
The three Hindus names doing the rounds of social media are the men who were taken into custody for attempting to recite the Hanuman Chalisa on July 15, 2022 and are not related to the viral video of people seen reciting namaz on July 12.
LuLu Mall, owned by UAE-based Indian businessman and billionaire Yusuf Ali MA, has found itself in a controversy after a video went viral on July 12 - the day of its opening - in Lucknow showing a group of around eight people offering namaz at the first floor of the mall.
The mall's management later issued a statement and distanced themselves from the incident and sent out a letter to Sushant Golf City Police clarifying that those offering namaz in the viral video were not their employees but visitors, and said it will ensure that no such incident is repeated. The mall management also put up notices on the premises stating that it will not allow any religious prayers in the mall.
Hindu right-wing outfits objected to people offering namaz inside the mall and called for its boycott on social media. Right wing groups also sought to recite the Hanuman Chalisa inside the mall, in protest. Following this, Lucknow Police had taken several people taken into custody for attempting to recite Hanuman Chalisa on the mall premises without permission.
On July 15, 2022, the Twitter handle DCP South Lucknow tweeted a list of 4 names - 3 Hindus and one Muslim accused of trying to perform religious activities at LuLu Mall without permission, who were taken into custody. The names mentioned were - 1) Saroj Nath Yogi 2) Krishna Kumar Pathak 3) Gaurav Goswami 4) Arshad Ali.
The notice when translated from Hindi reads, "Commissionerate Police Station, Sushant Golf City Lucknow: Today on 15.07.2022, four people of different religion and community attempted religious activities without permission in LuLu Mall. Their aim was to deliberately disturb the communal harmony. Section 144 is also applicable in Lucknow Commissionerate. The four persons were arrested and sent to judicial custody, whose names are as follows- Saroj Nath Yogi. 2- Krishna Kumar Pathak 3- Gaurav Goswami 4- Arshad Ali"
A screenshot of this tweet soon went viral with several users falsely claiming that the three Hindu names in the police notice are of the men in the viral video reciting namaz and that they disguised themselves as Muslims.
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The same set of names was also tweeted and shared on Twitter by several users with the misleading claim.
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Lucknow Police tweeted on July 18 denying the viral claim that the four names being identified and shared were the same men seen in the viral video offering namaz at LuLu Mall.
The statement further added that none of the people in the viral video offering namaz have been identified and the list of four names - three Hindus were allegedly trying to recite the Hanuman Chalisa and one Muslim was allegedly trying to offer namaz on the mall premises when they were arrested on July 15, 2022, and sent to judicial custody.
The statement tweeted by Police Commissionerate Lucknow when translated reads, "On 12.07.2022, a video had gone viral on social media for offering namaz in the LuLu mall premises, in connection with this, a case of indictment against unknown namazis was registered on 14.07.2022 by the management of the mall at the police station Sushant Golf City. Under section 153A (1) / 295A / 341 / 505 was registered."
The statement further read," None of the accused related to the registered case has been identified so far. After that on the date 15.07.2022, 1. Saroj Nath Yogi, 2. Krishna Kumar Pathak, 3. Gaurav Goswami attempted to read Hanuman Chalisa and 4. Arshad Ali tried to read the namaz were charged under section 151,107,116 CrPC against the above four persons."
"After that on 16.07.2022, action of section 151,107,116 CrPC action was taken against 18 people due to breach of peace, and on 16.07.2022 only 02 youths were arrested near the western boundary of LuLu Mall. 151,107,116 CrPC action was taken for shouting slogans with the aim of disturbing communal harmony. Through viral messages on social media, misleading news is being spread by some unknown people regarding offering Namaz in LuLu Mall premises by three out of these four people, which is completely untrue. Commissionerate Lucknow Police refutes this untrue and misleading news. Do not spread such false and misleading news," it further adds.
BOOM reached out several times to DCP Lucknow for a response, the article will be updated on receiving one. We also reached out to LuLu Mall for a response on the incident, the article will be updated accordingly.
Meanwhile, there has been speculation online about the viral namaz at the mall video itself. Social media users have questioned whether the men seen in it are Muslims and whether the whole incident has been a conspiracy to show the Muslim community in a bad light.
Congress party mouthpiece National Herald published an article claiming that the men in the viral video seemed to have no clue about how to offer namaz and are "probably non Muslims" citing CCTV footage and a police official saying the same.
"Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Rajesh Kumar Shrivastava conceded that the footage made it clear that the men had no clue about how Namaz is offered," National Herald stated.
However, it is important to note that the police have not identified any of the men who appeared in the namaz video, so far.
BOOM was unable to independently verify the CCTV footage mentioned above. We made several attempts to reach Additional DCP Shrivastava for a comment. The article will be updated if we hear back from the police.
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