Five employees of insurance firm ICICI Prudential in New Delhi, India have been jailed for launching a “Jehad” sales campaign in which they glorified Osama bin Laden and his “focused determination” in an effort to increase business by likening successful policy sales to “kills.” A branch manager and staff allegedly dreamed up the scheme to sell 275 policies in three days.
“Kill 10, take a branded T-shirt and be the terrorist in the group.” “Jehad begins from July 18-20 – Osama bin Laden,” the Times of India quoted a company memo circulated by ICICI-Prudential in the city of Kanpur.
The internal campaign, named “Mission Jehad,” addressed sales agents as “Dear terrorists” and compared selling life insurance policies to killing people, the Times said.
Every agent able to sell 10 life insurance policies was offered a T-shirt and a glass tumbler etched with the Al-Qaeda mastermind’s name.
The company condemned the incident in a statement, saying it was a mistake.
Police made the arrests under laws to combat social disharmony and hatred.
A police official in Kanpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said the staff organised a sales promotion meeting last week, putting up banners and posters. A flag of Pakistan was also allegedly used in the show.
But as the initiative attracted media publicity, staff panicked and tried to burn the publicity material.
Police searching the company’s premises say they found a half burned banner and a few posters containing slogans such as “Mission Jihad: kill one enemy and take home a beautiful crystal glass. Kill more, take more.”
Police took the branch manager, Sanjiv Bhatia, and four colleagues into custody.
They protested that they were only involved in a scheme to encourage insurance agents to sell more policies.
The magistrate rejected their bail application saying their actions were tantamount to glorifying Osama Bin Laden.
To control the damage to its reputation, the insurance company has now issued a “clarification” to newspapers, saying it was a mistake committed by local staff.
Dissociating itself from the aggressive sales promotion, the company expressed regret and condemned the choice of Osama Bin Laden and jihad as sales terms.
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