Hyundai India issues apology as boycott calls rise

Calls to boycott Hyundai came after its Pakistan partner expressed support for people in disputed region of Kashmir.

Workers assemble cars at Hyundai's newly inaugurated second plant near Chennai in India
Hyundai is India's second-largest car seller and its largest car exporter [File: Babu/Reuters]

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Company says it deeply regrets any offence caused to Indians by an “unauthorized” tweet from the account of its Pakistan partner that expressed solidarity for the people of disputed Kashmir.

“As a business policy, Hyundai Motor Company does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region,” Hyundai said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

The company said its independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made “unauthorized” Kashmir-related social media posts from its accounts, and “misused the Hyundai brand identity”.

“We deeply regret any offence caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity. We have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence,” Hyundai said.

Hyundai’s apology comes after it faced calls for a boycott by hundreds of social media users in India, which considers the whole of Kashmir as part of the country. The social media users said the company must apologise for being insensitive to India’s position in the decades-old dispute.

Hyundai is India’s second-largest car seller after Maruti Suzuki, selling close to half a million vehicles in the country in the last fiscal year and exporting over a million units, making it India’s largest car exporter.

The row erupted on Sunday, a day after Pakistan marked the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day. Posts on behalf of Hyundai’s partner, the Nishat Group, appeared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram commemorating what it described as the sacrifices of Kashmiris struggling for self-determination.

The Nishat Group, Pakistan’s largest business conglomerate, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Hyundai was not the only one to face boycott calls. Several large multinational brands, including Pizza Hut Inc, Domino’s Pizza Inc and Yum Brands Inc’s KFC, trended on social media in India on Tuesday, with calls for boycotts after some of their affiliates in Pakistan posted support for people in the disputed region of Kashmir.

KFC India tweeted an apology for the post on Monday and said: “We honour and respect India, and remain steadfast in our commitment to serving all Indians with pride.”

India and archrival Pakistan rule parts of Kashmir but both claim the Himalayan territory in full. Tens of thousands of people have died since an armed uprising against New Delhi’s control in Indian-administered Kashmir broke out in 1990.

India says Pakistan supports the rebellion in Kashmir, a charge denied by Islamabad. Pakistan says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiri people.

Source: News Agencies