BY AKHLAD KHAN @BawaNaaved
Hyundai, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC Bowed Down To India after Row Over Kashmir Day Posts
Fast-food restaurant chains KFC and Pizza Hut on Monday found themselves in trouble after their Pakistan-based dealer posted a message supporting separatists in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is that part of the Jammu and Kashmir (India) which was invaded by Pakistan in 1947. The region is referred by the United Nations and other international organizations, as ‘Pakistani-controlled Kashmir’ (or Pakistan Administered Kashmir) and it was re-named as ‘Pakistan occupied Jammu-Kashmir’ by the Modi government.
Kashmir Solidarity Day is celebrated in Pakistan and parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to show a kind of solidarity with the people of Kashmir and remind the world that the issues in Kashmir are not forgotten. It is also a national holiday in the neighboring country.
The two chains – subsidiaries of US-based Yum! Brands – on February 5 had expressed their “solidarity” with Kashmiri separatists and posted a message supporting “Kashmir Solidarity Day”.
Bajrang Dal (A Hindu Activist Organization) members on Saturday staged a protest at branches of KFC, Domino’s, Pizza Hut and showrooms of Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors in Ahmedabad of Gujrat State against their social media post supporting ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’.
Jvalit Mehta, north Gujarat chairman of Bajrang Dal, said that these firms should issue an apology saying that Kashmir is an integral part of India, “only then we will forgive them”.
However, following the posts, both KFC and Pizza Hut were slammed by Indian Twitter users, who called for the boycott of the two subsidiaries. Later, the two issued a clarification and deleted the posts from their Pakistan-based dealers.
“We deeply apologize 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,” tweeted KFC India.
Further, pizza brand Domino’s also issued an apology for Kashmir Day posts from its handle. “Domino’s India is committed to the Indian market, having called it home for more than 25 years, and has the utmost respect for the people, culture and spirit of nationalism of the country,” the company said in a statement on Twitter.
The multinational pizza chain further said, “We regret and apologize for the unsolicited social media post published on Domino’s social media handles outside the country.”
Hyundai Motor has already expressed deep regrets over the ‘offense’ caused to Indians due to an “unauthorized” tweet on Kashmir from the official account of the Pakistan Hyundai.
As a business policy, Hyundai Motor Company does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region. Therefore, it is clearly against Hyundai Motor’s policy that the independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made unauthorized Kashmir-related social media posts from their own accounts,” the car manufacturer said in a statement issued on February 8.
Hyundai further said that once the situation was brought to its attention, it made the distributor acutely aware of the inappropriateness of the action. “We have since taken measures to ensure the distributor, which misused the Hyundai brand identity, has removed the social media posts and we have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence,” the car maker said.
Following the post, ‘Boycott Hyundai’ trended on Twitter in India with many users asking people to stop buying the company’s products in the country. On Sunday, Hyundai Motors India put out a message on social media reiterating its commitment to the Indian market.