The traders have said they did not mean to malign the prime minister’s image and only wanted to highlight banks’ refusal to accept small coins after demonetisation.
New Delhi: The police in Kanpur have arrested one person and booked 22 others for putting up posters that likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The posters, which featured photos of the two leaders side by side by an accompany Hindi text – “Kim has decided to destroy the world, Modi has decided to destroy business” – were put up by traders who were protesting against the number of small coins in circulation after demonetisation and the refusal of banks to accept them.
According to The Hindu, an FIR was filed against the 22 traders (named on the posters) at the Govind Nagar police station in Kanpur under Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 32(2) of the UP Special Powers Act.
The traders said on Saturday that they did not mean to malign the prime minister’s image and only wanted to highlight the fact that banks were refusing to accept deposits of small coins, which was affecting their businesses, the Indian Express reported. Praveen Kumar Agnihotri, a labourer, was arrested while putting up the posters.
Raju Khanna, a trader and main accused whose photograph is on the posters, told the Indian Express, “We took the initiative to make the PM aware of the grievances of small traders. We are on the verge of shutting down.” He claimed that banks are refusing to accept coins, making things very difficult for traders. “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.” Banks have said they do not have any room to store coins, the traders allege.
The traders say they pooled money and printed 100 posters, of which 87 were put up and the rest seized. They first appeared on Wednesday, ahead of a BJP state executive meet. Many of the posters have now been taken down by the police, The Hindu reported.
“We all are Modi supporters. If the change (coins) is ruining us and our businesses what option did we have,” Khanna told the newspaper.
Superintendent of police (south) Ashok Verma confirmed Kumar’s arrest to the Hindustan Times and said others would be also be picked up soon.
Gopal Sardana, president of Kirana Vyapar Mandal, told the Hindustan Times that traders in the city have decided not to celebrate Diwali. They have been protesting about the effect of coins for close to seven months, he said. “We are in talks with other bodies and planning a major agitation. It will include dumping coins en masse at the Gandhi statue in Phool Bagh,” he said. “We believe this is being done to finish us and our small-time businesses. We demand that the government give us an alternative about what to do with the coins.”