MUMBAI Jan 11 Amazon.com removed
doormats resembling the Indian tri-colour flag from its Canadian
website on Wednesday, after an Indian government threat to
rescind visas of the U.S. company's employees if they did not
stop selling the product.
"Amazon must tender unconditional apology," India's external
affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter. "They must
withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately."
"If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian
Visa to any Amazon official," she added. "We will also rescind
the Visas issued earlier."
The doormat, sold by a third-party on Amazon's Canadian
portal, appeared to have been taken down late on Wednesday.
Searches failed to bring up the item, although the e-commerce
giant did not confirm it had removed it.
Amazon's portal in Canada sells doormats fashioned around
other national flags, but under Indian law any desecration of
its flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment.
Amazon's official support account on Twitter had earlier
responded to angry user comments on Twitter by saying the mats
were not being sold on their Indian portal and the concerns had
Swaraj tweeted that she had asked the Indian High Commission
in Canada to take up the issue with Amazon, after it was brought
to her attention by a Twitter user from India's financial
capital of Mumbai.
Swaraj is a prolific user of the social media website and
often responds to tweets directed at her.
Amazon India did not immediately respond to an email seeking
comment, while Amazon representatives in Canada and the United
States were not immediately reachable for comment.
Amazon is making a huge bet on India and has vowed to invest
more than $5 billion as it takes on home-grown Flipkart and
Snapdeal for a bigger share of the world's fastest growing
internet services market.
In an event attended by Indian premier Narendra Modi in
Washington last year, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said
India was the company's fastest growing region.
(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Euan Rocha, Elaine
Hardcastle and Alexander Smith)