TWO DAYS after 22 traders were booked in Kanpur for putting up hoardings likening Prime Minister Narendra Modi to North Korean president Kim Jong-un, the prime accused in the case on Saturday said they had no intention of maligning the PM’s image, and were only highlighting banks’ refusal to accept small coins, which was affecting their businesses.
On Thursday, hoardings had come up across Lucknow, stating that as “Kim has decided to destroy the world, Modi has decided to destroy business.” Following this, an FIR was lodged at Govind Nagar police station against 22 traders, whose names were mentioned in the hoardings, on charges of provocation with intent to cause riot and statements conducing to public mischief.
A labourer, Praveen Kumar Agnihotri, was arrested while putting up the posters. Raju Khanna, a trader and the main accused — his photograph finds place in all posters — said, “We took the initiative to make the PM aware of the grievances of small traders. We are on the verge of shutting down.” Criticism of govt does not amount to sedition: Soli Sorabjee
Alleging that banks have refused to take deposits in coins, he said: “After demonetisation, there are not enough currency notes available… Mostly, small traders like us get coins from customers. But the banks are not ready to accept these coins… We do not know how to run our business and the government has come up with a rule that larger transactions have to be made through cheques.”
Khanna said the traders had collected money and got 100 posters printed. Among these, 87 were displayed and the rest were seized by the police. Most of the posters have been removed by the police. Kanpur Additional SP (South) Ashok Kumar Verma said: “The posters were put up on Thursday. An FIR too was registered the same day by Sub-Inspector Rajesh Awasthi, in charge of the concerned outpost.”
“We have lodged an FIR under sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot-if rioting be committed-if not committed) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC and the UP Special Power Act,” said senior S-I Anil Chaubey of Govind Nagar police station. “Praveen Kumar Agnihotri, who was hired, was arrested while putting up the posters at Nand Lal crossing in the city. He was later released,” he added.