India

Amazon sorry over India flag doormat fiasco

  • 13 January 2017
  • From the section India
A supporter of Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare waves the Indian national flag near the India Gate monument in New Delhi on August 28, 2011. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Desecration of the national flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment in India

Online retailer Amazon has apologised for selling doormats featuring the Indian flag on its Canadian website.

Amazon removed the product from its website on Wednesday, and apologised the following day after Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's strong criticism of the firm.

Ms Swaraj had tweeted that India would rescind current visas for Amazon officials if it failed to apologise.

Desecration of the flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment in India.

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Amazon's India vice president, Amit Agarwal, said in a statement that his firm was "committed to respecting Indian laws and customs".

"A third-party seller, not Amazon, had listed these products for sale in Canada... Amazon regrets the same. At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments," he said.

In a series of tweets, Ms Swaraj had asked the Indian High Commission in Canada to take up the issue with Amazon after it was brought to her attention by another Twitter user.

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

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

Last June Amazon found itself in a similar controversy over sales of doormats illustrating Hindu gods.

The row comes as Flipkart, India's biggest online retailer, is involved in a fierce battle with Amazon over market share.

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