India demands apology from Amazon for insulting flag, warns of action

India on Wednesday demanded an apology from retail giant Amazon for selling doormats featuring its national flag and warned it would cancel visas of company officials unless the products were withdrawn.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj intervened in the issue after she was tagged by a Twitter user with a screenshot of Amazon's Canada website selling the product.

"Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately," Swaraj said on Twitter.

"If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the visas issued earlier," she said.

The minister also directed the Indian High Commission in Canada to take up the matter with Amazon.

When contacted by dpa, a spokesperson for Amazon in India said they were not yet able to comment, but they had seen the minister's tweet.

A search on Amazon Canada showed the company was still selling the doormats. It is worth noting that Amazon is not involved in the direct sale of the goods, but is an online marketplace where goods listed by third-party sellers are offered for sale.

Amazon, which launched its India operations in 2013, has been aggressively expanding with investments of billions of dollars in the South Asian country.

This is not Amazon's first brush with controversy in India. It had got into trouble last year for selling doormats with Hindu deities, the New Indian Express reported.

Swaraj is one of the most popular politicians in India and is known for her direct responses - often via social media, particularly Twitter - to requests for help on a range of issues.

Last update: Wed, 11/01/2017 - 18:34
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