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Amazon takes down products with Hindu symbols after India backlash

#BoycottAmazon was one of the top trending topics on Twitter in India


Sankalp Phartiyal | Reuters 

The retail giant enraged Indian customers in 2019 as well after toilet seat covers and other items emblazoned with images of Hindu gods were spotted on its US website

said on Tuesday it had taken down listings of products such as briefs and doormats with Hindu sacred symbols, which were being sold on its overseas websites, following a furore on social media in India.

#BoycottAmazon was one of the top trending topics on Twitter in India, with users sharing screenshots of listings of doormats and underwear emblazoned with insignia including the elephant god Ganesha and other symbols, which Hindus consider sacred.

“We are taking down the products in question,” said in a statement. “All sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who do not will be subject to action including potential removal of their account.”

To be sure, several of the product listings on Amazon’s websites are controlled by sellers and not directly by the company. But episodes such as this threaten to disrupt business and sour public sentiment in India for global firms such as Amazon.

In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government threatened to rescind visas of Amazon’s employees in the country if it did not stop the sale of doormats resembling India’s Tricolour flag on its Canadian website.

The retail giant enraged Indian customers again in 2019 after toilet seat covers and other items emblazoned with images of Hindu gods were spotted on its US website.

On both those occasions, it took down the product listings.

“Dear Indians, if your religious feeling have been hurt, register a complaint with cyber police or with local police station,” Gaurav Goel, a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted on Tuesday.

India is a key growth market for Amazon where it has committed to spending over $6 billion. In addition, Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing unit, is set to invest $2.80 billion in Telangana to set up a cluster of data centres.

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First Published: Tue, November 10 2020. 22:30 IST