Posts on Kashmir unacceptable: Government

India summons South Korean Ambassador over ads.

February 08, 2022 05:54 pm | Updated 11:28 pm IST - New Delhi

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during the ongoing Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi. File

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar during the ongoing Budget session of Parliament, in New Delhi. File

The Government of India took up social media posts calling for Kashmiri “freedom” by various multinational companies (MNCs) based in Pakistan on a war footing on Tuesday, with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaking to his Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong to protest the posts put out by the Hyundai Motor Company, and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) conveying to a number of other countries that it found the posts “offensive”, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament on Tuesday, .

Apart from Korean auto companies Hyundai and Kia, the Pakistani branches of American MNCs Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut, Japanese companies Osaka batteries, Atlas Honda Limited and Isuzu D-max as well as German pharma company Schwabe had all carried posts expressing “solidarity” with “Kashmiri brothers and sisters”, and “praying for the liberation” on February 5, which is marked as “Kashmir solidarity day” in Pakistan .

In addition, Korean Ambassador to India Chang Jae Bok was summoned to South Block by the MEA, while Indian Ambassador to Seoul Sripriya Ranganathan sought an explanation from Hyundai and Kia headquarters for the posts.

Hyundai Pakistan post

“The strong displeasure of the government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to [the Korean Ambassador]. It was highlighted that this matter concerned India’s territorial integrity on which there could be no compromise,” said MEA Official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a statement. Mr. Jaishankar tweeted separately that he had received a call from his Korean counterpart, and discussed bilateral and multilateral issues “as also the Hyundai matter”.

The MEA did not respond to queries about whether protests had been made with other embassies and governments. However, sources said officials had reached out to economic counsellors in some of the embassies involved and impressed upon the need for their MNCs to respect India’s sentiments.

Some of the companies that had issued the Kashmir posts have subsequently withdrawn and deleted their posts, and a few like Hyundai and KFC expressed their apologies and “regretted the offense caused to the people of India”.

Sena MP’s submission

“[Hyundai] has already issued a clarification. Yesterday, we have also asked them to be more forceful in their unequivocal apology on this issue,” Mr. Goyal stated while responding to a zero-hour submission made on the subject by Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi.

Speaking about the MNC posts in Pakistan, Ms. Chaturvedi had said, “These companies are doing business, both in India and Pakistan, yet have posted content in solidarity with Pakistan over Kashmir. Such posts that are challenging the sovereignty of our country should not be acceptable. It is surprising that it has been ignored till now, also keeping in mind that these companies have been flourishing in India for past many years.”

In its statement on Tuesday the Hyundai Motor Company said that it “does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region. Therefore, it is clearly against Hyundai Motor’s policy that the independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made unauthorised Kashmir-related social media posts from their own accounts”.

In response to calls by Indian social media users to boycott Hyundai products, it also said that Hyundai Motors India was “not associated with the distributor in Pakistan”.

Suzuki’s statement

Japanese auto giant Suzuki Motor Corporation, in a statement put up by Maruti Suzuki on its Twitter account, said that it aimed to be a company trusted and counted upon by all throughout the world, through its products, services, ethical business conduct and social responsibility efforts towards Sustainable Development Goals.

“As a corporate policy, we do not align with any political or religious inclination in any part of the world. Such communication from our dealers or business associates on these topics represents neither our company position not authorised by us.We deeply regret the hurt to sentiments, that such insensitive communication has caused. It will be our constant endeavour to advise our business associates to comply strictly to our company policy in this regard,” it stated.

On Monday, KFC India issued an apology “for a post that was published on some KFC social media channels outside the country”. “We honour and respect India, and remain steadfast in our commitment to serving all Indians with pride,” it said.

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