The police in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh registered a first information report (FIR) against Muslims for offering namaz (prayers) in the newly opened Lulu Mall in Lucknow.
The FIR was registered following a protest by Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, a Hindutva outfit, after a video purportedly showing some Mus-lims offering namaz in the Mall went viral. In the FIR, the Muslims have been charged for “promoting enmity” between religious groups.
The Mahasabha launched a protest in Lucknow against the Lulu group and its owner, Yusuffali M.A., for allowing visitors to offer namaz in the mall arena. The activists of Mahasabha have been exerting pressure on the district administration for action against the mall management and the people seen in the viral video.
Subsequently, the mall’s authorities issued a statement and distanced themselves from the ‘con-troversy’. Fearing serious backlash and financial losses, the mall management was forced to send out a letter to Sushant Golf City police in connection with the incident. It clarified that those offering namaz were not employees of the mall but visitors, and said it will ensure that no such incident repeats. The management put up notices on the premises stating that it will not allow any religious prayers in the mall.
However, the clarification from the mall man-agement did not convince the Hindutva outfit which directly targeted Lulu Group owner Yusuffali, a Muslim. They accused him of only employing Mus-lims and sending profits earned in India to Dubai.
Members of the Mahasabha went to Golf City Police Station in Lucknow to lodge their complaint. The Hindutva outfit also sought permission to recite Sundar Kand in the mall.
In its complaint to the local police, Mahasabha underlined that in the newly inaugurated mall, 70% of the employees are male Muslims and 30% are Hindu female staff. The Hindu fundamentalist organisation also announced a protest outside the mall and appealed to the Hindu community to boycott the mall.
Talking to media, Shishir Chaturvedi, Mahasabha’s spokesperson, said, “Lulu Group will earn a lucrative profit from India and send money to Dubai. Did the chief minister check that the mall is constructed as per Lucknow Development Author-ity’s norms or not? If the mall is not constructed as per rules, where are Baba’s (Yogi) bulldozers?”
According to Chaturvedi, the mall is promoting “Love Jihad” as the number of male Muslim staff members are more than female Hindu employees. He also alleged that the Lulu group donated its profit to extremist Islamic groups that beheaded Hindus.
Chaturvedi further added that the Adityanath-led UP government banned namaz or other religious activities in public places. “Despite this, people offered namaz in the mall, so the administration should take strict action to stop religious activities in public places.”
Many believe that the incident sent the wrong message to the investors. Senior journalist Atul Chandra says, “The Yogi-government must act against Hindutva outfits which are creating obstacles to the state’s progress.”
Chandra opined that the fanatic groups choked the progress and prosperity of many people, as, after such instances, investors would consider multiple times before investing in the state.
UP Chief Minister Adityanath himself inaugu-rated the Lulu Mall in the state capital on July 10 in a grand function organised by Lulu Group chairman Yusuffali MA.
With the launch in Lucknow, Lulu Group Inter-national now has five malls in India. The others are in Kochi, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Thris-sur. The mall in Lucknow is spread over 2.2 million square feet and has come at an investment of Rs 2,000 crore.—KMS