The internal campaign, named “Mission Jehad,” addressed sales agents as “Dear terrorists” and compared selling life insurance policies to killing people, the Times of India newspaper said.
The posters were used at a meeting of sales agents for the ICICI Prudential Insurance Company in the northern Indian city of Kanpur.
“Kill 10, take a branded T-shirt and be the best terrorist in the group,” agents were told on posters ostensibly signed by bin Laden, the newspaper said. “Jihad begins from July 18-20,” the posters said, announcing the start of the sales campaign.
In a statement, the company said the slogan was an internal campaign confined to its Kanpur team and not a public scheme. “The company condemns the choice of theme and sincerely regrets any sentiments that may have been hurt,” the statement said, adding that it had started an investigation.
Police in Kanpur said five employees, including the branch manager, had been arrested Tuesday and charged with sedition. “We saw the posters and we decided to take action and book them for sedition,” police officer R.K. Parasher told Reuters from Kanpur.
A Kanpur court sent the five to jail Wednesday saying the Indian government recognized bin Laden as a terrorist and that their sales motto glorified him. It was not clear how long the jail terms were, but the accused were given the right to appeal to a higher court.
The company is a joint venture between ICICI Bank Ltd., India’s second-largest bank, and Prudential Plc, Britain’s second-biggest listed insurer.