Amazon Canada landed in hot water after Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs, said on Twitter that visas of Amazon officials will be rescinded for selling doormats featuring the Indian flag on the platform.
A Twitter user brought to Sushma Swaraj’s attention that Amazon Canada was selling doormats featuring the Indian flag. A simple search on Amazon Canada by Gadgets 360 verified this claim (see screenshot) a few minutes after the tweets, though the products were later removed from Amazon Canada's catalog.
“Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted, ”If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier,” she added.
Amazon Canada sells doormats fashioned around other national flags as well, 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.
Roughly four hours after Sushma Swaraj's tweets, Amazon Canada removed the 'offensive' doormats from its catalog, with the product pages showing up a 'page not found' error. The Indian flag doormats on Amazon Canada were missing from search results on the website as well. "The item is no longer for sale on the site," an Amazon representative told Gadgets 360.
It's worth pointing out that Amazon Canada is a marketplace, and is not directly involved in selling all goods on its website, and the Indian flag doormat seem to have been listed by a third-party seller on Amazon Canada.
On Twitter, Sushma Swaraj also instructed the Indian High Commission in Canada to take up the matter with Amazon Canada.
Note: The story has been updated to add Amazon's statement and the fact that the products have now been removed from the store.