From Hyundai to Kia and from KFC to Suzuki, multinational companies are facing a backlash in India for tweeting in favor of Pakistan-sponsored “Kashmir Solidarity Day”.
Hashtags such as #BoycottKiaMotors, #BoycottKFC and #HyundaiMustApologise started trending on Twitter.
Tweets/posts in favor of the “Kashmir Solidarity Day” were also sent out by Twitter handles of dealers and outlets of Suzuki Pakistan as well Isuzu Pakistan. By Monday evening, the posts on Suzuki Pakistan’s Twitter and Facebook page (controlled by a dealer of the company) had been taken down.
Drawing fire, Hyundai’s India subsidiary came out with a statement. “Hyundai Motor India has been committed to the Indian market for more than 25 years now and we stand firmly for our strong ethos of respecting nationalism. The unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India is offending our unparalleled commitment and service to this great country. India is a second home to the Hyundai brand and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view. As part of our commitment to India, we will continue our efforts towards the betterment of the country as well as its citizens,” it said.
KFC India also issued a statement on Monday evening, saying, “We deeply apologize for a post that was published on some KFC social media channels outside the country. We honor and respect India, and remain steadfast in our commitment to serving all Indians with pride.” The objectionable tweet had been sent by a dealer of KFC Pakistan.
Screenshots of tweets sent out by @PakistanHyundai handle (the official account for Hyundai’s Pakistan dealer Nishat Motor Ltd) had carried messages sent out on February 5.
But as the backlash intensified and the brand got hit in India, the @PakistanHyundai Twitter handle went private, giving access to its tweets only to approved followers.
India’s auto dealers’ body also criticized Hyundai and Kia for the comments. “We #Dealers are shocked that both @Hyundai_Global and @Kia_Worldwide showed their solidarity by supporting the illegal movement. Both companies should immediately repeal all the tweets. #Kashmir is an integral part of India and will continue till eternity. JAI HIND,” president of the dealers’ body, Vinkesh Gulati, said.
The issue also got the attention of some political leaders in India. Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP and former Congress leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tagged the statement issued by Hyundai India and said that the company should have been direct in its apology over the issue. “Hi Hyundai. So many wishy-washy words are not needed. All you need to say is — we are unequivocally sorry. Rest is all unnecessary.”
BJP’s foreign affairs department in charge Vijay Chauthaiwale also said that Hyundai’s global communications should object to the anti-India rhetoric. “@HyundaiIndia, this is not sufficient. You must explain if you endorse statements of @PakistanHyundai? What’s your global stand on such anti-India rhetoric? @Hyundai_Global,” he said in his tweet.