The row first erupted when carmaker Hyundai’s Pakistani handle posted a tweet expressing support for the “struggle of Kashmiri brothers.”
Pakistan marks the so-called “Kashmir Solidarity Day” on February 5.
The Pakistani handles of Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chains KFC and Pizza Hut as well as that of Kia Motors had also posted tweets with similar messaging.
Shortly after the tweets, outrage erupted on social media with hundreds of users in India calling for the boycott of these brands.
Dozens of Indians posted their intention to cancel orders for Hyundai cars in order to punish the company while urging support for homegrown brands like Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.
Dear @KFC_India while we accept your apology we would ask you to write to your parent firm @kfc asking them to remo… https://t.co/MME1KayGpf
— Ninjamonkey 🇮🇳 (@Aryan_warlord) 1644254984000
Users also called for the boycott of KFC and Pizza Hut.
#BoycottHyundai, #BoycottKFC and #BoycottPizzaHut were trending on Twitter throughout the day.
Responding to the furore, the Indian partners of the companies went into damage control mode.
Official Statement from Hyundai Motor India Ltd.#Hyundai #HyundaiIndia https://t.co/dDsdFXbaOd
— Hyundai India (@HyundaiIndia) 1644159652000
Hyundai’s India unit said that it has a “zero tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view”.
“The unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India is offending our unparalleled commitment and service to this great country,” @HyundaiIndia said, adding that it stands firmly behind its “strong ethos of respecting nationalism”.
KFC apologised for the post and said it honours and respects India.
We deeply apologize for a post that was published on some KFC social media channels outside the country. We honour… https://t.co/RRPXZ2XHyH
— KFC India (@KFC_India) 1644239700000
“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,” according to a message on KFC India official account on Twitter.
Ashwani Mahajan, an official at the economic wing of RSS, said Hyundai should clarify its position on Kashmir.
“While not criticising @HyundaiPakistan Indian arm of @Hyundai_Global is not even saying that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Speaks tons about their commitment to India. Doesn’t this call for #BoycottHyundai?”, he said.
(With inputs from agencies)