But Amazon continues to sell Lord Ganesha skateboards, despite requests for removal

London, January 17: A doormat depicting the Indian flag was being sold from world’s largest online retailer, Amazon’s Canadian store, which led to a furor amongst Indians both in India and overseas.

Indian External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj then issued ultimatum that she would revoke visas for Amazon officials in India if ‘insulting’ products were not taken down from Canada site Amazon.

Upon the warning from India’s top diplomat which threatened to expel all foreign employees of the online retailer if it did not withdraw the product, Amazon was forced to remove the doormat depicting the Indian flag.

Ms Swaraj used Twitter to demand Amazon “tender [an] unconditional apology” and “withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately”, after another user alerted to the listings.

The company’s Canadian store offered a range of doormats depicting the Indian flag as well as those of other countries, including the US and the UK. The Indian flag doormats, sold by a third party, were taken down.

A spokesman for Amazon issued a statement: “The item is no longer for sale on the site.”

Earlier, Ms Swaraj had asked the Indian High Commission in Canada to “take this up with Amazon at the highest level.

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

Ms Swaraj has nearly seven million followers on the social network and has become well-known for her “Twitter diplomacy”, regularly responding to problems and questions from other Twitter users.

However, Amazon.com continues to carry skateboards, bed covers, duvet covers and bedspreads; showing images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha; which Hindus worldwide had earlier called for removal.

Hindu statesman and president, Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed had called the products “highly inappropriate” and urged for the withdrawal earlier.

Amazon continues to sell Ganesha skateboards
Amazon continues to sell Ganesha skateboards

Zed, who spearheaded the protest, in a statement in Nevada today, said that “such trivialization of Lord Ganesha was disturbing to the Hindus world over”.

“Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped… and not to put your feet on or touch with your feet or sleep on it.

“Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay”, Zed added.

Zed said that “Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing hurt followers”.

Zed urged Amazon.com to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing about few dozen of such products, as this was not the first time for the company to offer such products which were deemed offensive by Hindu devotees.

Amazon.com, Inc., a Fortune 500 company is aggressively trying to expand its Indian business, more than doubling its revenue in 2015-16. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Seattle (USA), the company has invested more than $5bn in India since 2014.

Shalini Singh

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