Highlights

  • Amazon Canada was found selling doormats resembling the Indian flag
  • The doormat was taken down late on Wednesday
  • Indian government threatened to rescind visas of Amazon employees

Amazon Canada removed Indian flag doormats from its website on Wednesday, after Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Twitter threatened to rescind visas of the US company’s employees if they did not stop selling the product.

“Amazon must tender unconditional apology,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Twitter, referring to Indian flag doormats on Amazon Canada. “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 Amazon Canada Indian flag doormat, sold by a third-party seller, was taken down late on Wednesday.

“The item is no longer available for sale on the site,” a spokeswoman for Amazon said in an email.

Amazon Canada sells doormats fashioned around other national flags, but under Indian law any desecration of the 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 Indian flag doormats were not being sold on Amazon India, and the concerns had been escalated. On Twitter, Sushma Swaraj said 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 Mumbai.

Sushma Swaraj is a prolific user of Twitter and often responds to tweets directed at her.

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 premier Narendra Modi in Washington last year, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said India was the company’s fastest growing region.

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