Hashtags such as #BoycottKiaMotors, #BoycottKFC, #HyundaiWithTerrorist and #HyundaiMustApologise started trending on Twitter amid a surge in nationalistic sentiments in favour of local Indian brands such as Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.NEW DELHI: Multinational consumer brands – particularly Korean carmakers Hyundai and Kia, and American food chain KFC – faced a big social-media backlash over tweets and Instagram/Facebook posts sent out by their dealers and outlets in Pakistan, talking about “Kashmir Solidarity Day” and “right to freedom”.
Hashtags such as #BoycottKiaMotors, #BoycottKFC, #HyundaiWithTerrorist and #HyundaiMustApologise started trending on Twitter amid a surge in nationalistic sentiments in favour of local Indian brands such as Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.
Tweets/posts in favour 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.Questions sent to Suzuki’s India subsidiary, Maruti Suzuki , did not get any response.
Concerned over the backlash which started on Sunday and continued even through Monday, 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 second home to the Hyundai brand and we have 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.
Hyundai Motor statement:#Hyundai #HyundaiIndia https://t.co/Ir5JzjS2XP
— Hyundai India (@HyundaiIndia) 1644292451000
The official Twitter handle of KFC India also issued a statement on Monday evening, saying, “We deeply apologise 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.” 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 which said, “Let us remember the sacrifices of our Kashmiri brothers and stand in support as they continue to struggle for freedom #HyundaiPakistan #KashmirSolidarityDay”.Another tweet by the same handle had said, “Praying for the liberation of our eternally beautiful Kashmir today and always!”
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.
A tweet by the Twitter handle of @KiaCrossroads also spoke about “freedom of Kashmir”.
The tweet has been taken down now, and Kia India didn’t comment on the matter.
By the evening, India’s auto dealers’ body also criticised 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 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.
— Dr Vijay Chauthaiwale (@vijai63) 1644160742000
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