Two people were arrested after they entered the Lulu Mall in Lucknow on Saturday and started reciting the Hanuman Chalisa, police said.
At least 15 others were detained for creating a ruckus while trying to enter the shopping mall.
Confirming the development, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Gopal Krishna Choudhary said, “Two people entered the mall, sat on the floor and started saying religious prayers. They were arrested after being handed over to the police by the mall’s security staff.” Shortly after the duo were held, members of a right-wing group tried to enter the mall. They too were detained by police and released with a warning not to create a ruckus.
This comes after police lodged an FIR under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (deliberate act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against a group of unidentified people who allegedly offered namaz at the mall recently.
A controversy broke out after a video purportedly showing a group of people offering namaz at the mall surfaced on social media.
A right-wing outfit had objected to people offering namaz inside the mall and sought permission from the authorities concerned to recite the Hanuman Chalisa there, which was declined.
The case was registered on a complaint from the representatives of the mall, who claimed that those seen in the video were not their staff members.
The mall authorities also put up notices across the property on Friday, declaring “no religious prayers will be permitted in the mall”.
The mall was inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on July 10. It has been opened by the Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group, led by Indian-origin billionaire Yussuf Ali M A.