On Sunday, the Lucknow Police made its seventh arrest in an incident where eight people were offering namaz at Lulu Mall in Lucknow. The persons have been booked under penal sections relating to promoting enmity between groups and causing public mischief, among other sections.
The family of those arrested claim that they had asked for permission to pray. However, the mall’s administration said that it does not allow any religious worship in its premises.
The incident at Lulu Mall is not unique. There have been a spate of instances of Muslims being arrested for praying in public.
Legal experts, however, say that praying in public is not a criminal offence. There must be a specific intent to cause disharmony among groups, which is not apparent in these cases. Further, several acts of public worship occur every day and state authorities do not stop them. Therefore, to only target certain religious acts is discriminatory.
In the past few months, there have been a number of instances of Muslims getting penalised for praying in public.
On Saturday, eight people were arrested in Haridwar for offering namaz publicly. They were granted bail a few hours later. Earlier, on Friday, after a video of people offering namaz at the Prayagraj railway station waiting area circulated, the police started an…