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Osama enters motivation hall, manager lands in jail

Lucknow, July 20: Smoke ’em out ' a la George W. Bush ' is fine, but not a call for jihad, as in Osama bin Laden. Welcome to the politically correct world of the eternal war zone called the marketplace.

Sanjiv Bhatia, the manager of an ICICI Bank branch in Kanpur, started an incentive scheme for staff, named “Mission Jihad”, urging them to get more subscribers for an insurance scheme.

Whether or not he will win a marketing excellence award in the future it’s too early to tell, but as of now he’s cooling his heels in jail.

“He (Bhatia) was promoting the cause of Osama,” said the senior superintendent of police, Kanpur, P.C. Meena.

His men picked up Bhatia after activists of the BJP student wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, barged into the bank conference hall where successful employees were to be gifted a set of crystal glasses, some bearing Osama’s face, last evening.

In order to win the gift, an employee had to get 275 subscribers for the ICICI Prudential Life Insurance scheme.

The hall’s walls were plastered with posters of Osama and pictures of assault rifles, bearing slogans such as “Kill one enemy and take away crystal glasses” and “Kill more, take more”.

“War”, “kill” are words not exactly unknown in corporate boardrooms.

Ranjan Das, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, said management strategy derives to a great extent from warfare, and freely uses the language of combat.

The group of some 100 BJP youth activists felt killing Osama-style ' even figuratively ' wasn’t quite right. They tore off the posters, smashed the glasses, shouted against the “glorification of the jihadi terrorist”, prompting panicky bank officials to call the police and invite bigger trouble.

The vandals got away but Bhatia was questioned through the night, arrested in the morning and produced in court charged with anti-national activities and incitement to violence.

Satyendra Tripathi, a criminal lawyer here, said it is not illegal to use icons or phrases generally associated with an outlaw unless the cause is subversion.

Das agreed. “If someone does this purely to advance his business interests ' to motivate his people ' there can be no justification for his arrest.”

Bhatia’s colleagues feel he has been misunderstood.

“The idea was to recharge our staff, to make them more aggressive,” said Brijesh Sahu, adviser (planning) of the bank.

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