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Amazon pulls down 'Gandhi flip flops' after Indian govt protest

The 'Gandhi flip flops' had sparked a backlash among the Indian public. Photograph: (WION)

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 19, 2017, 03.29 PM (IST)

Amazon, a US-based retail giant, has removed the flip flops having Mahatma Gandhi's image on them, the Indian government said Thursday.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the government had conveyed a message to Amazon that "offending items" like 'Gandhi flip flops' and 'dog tags' should not be up for sale on their website as it hurt the sentiments of the Indian public.

"Our Ambassador in Washington had been instructed to convey to Amazon that while providing a platform for third-party vendors, they should respect Indian sensitivities and sentiments. We have been in touch with Amazon both in Washington as well as in Delhi and we have had constructive conversations," Swarup said.

Amazon was selling the flip flops on its American portal.

Ever since news of these slippers with Mahatma Gandhi’s pictures surfaced, the Amazon page selling these slippers has been flooded with comments from users, mostly Indian, seeking removal and banning of such products.

“Amazon please ban this seller (and take further action if possible) for spreading hate and hurting sentiments of people of India and his followers around the world. MK Gandhi is a very respected figure in India and around the world, and having flip flops with his face, shows the disgusting and dangerous precedence this seller (sick minded and arrogant ) is setting,” one Rahul Lokare wrote on Amazon's webpage.

Last week, after she received a complaint about Amazon Canada selling doormats depicting Indian flag on its site, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reacted sharply and asked the e-retailer to withdraw the products and tender an unconditional apology, failing which no official of Amazon will be granted Indian visa and the ones issued earlier will also be rescinded.

Following the stern message, Amazon expressed regret for "offending" Indian sentiments and informed Swaraj about removal of the offensive product from its Canadian website.

(WION with inputs from PTI)

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