- Companies had offered aid to Kashmiris on Kashmir Day.
- Dinesh Navadiya of VHP asks companies not to do business in India if they support Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir.
- Companies have already apologized as criticism of the posts grew.
AHMEDABAD: Hundreds of Hindu nationalist protesters marched in India’s state of Gujarat on Saturday, leading to the closure of stores owned by several multinational companies that sparked a stir over social media posts in support of Kashmir Day.
The messages were posted last week by Pakistani branches of the likes of Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, fast food chain Domino’s Pizza and Yum Brand Inc’s Pizza Hut and KFC, which also operate in India.
They were issued by the companies on February 5 to coincide with Pakistani Kashmir Day, which is held annually to commemorate the sacrifices of Kashmiris fighting for self-determination, and sparked anger among social media users in India.
“These companies cannot do business in India while supporting Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir,” said Dinesh Navadiya, treasurer of the Hindu nationalist organization Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Reuters during a protest in the city of Surat.
More than 100 members of Bajrang Dal, another Hindu nationalist group, shouted slogans such as “Kashmir is Ours” and wore saffron scarves.
Both the VHP and Bajrang Dal are affiliated with Modi’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
The furor has highlighted the risks facing businesses in India and Pakistan.
India says Pakistan is supporting an armed uprising against New Delhi’s rule in Indian-occupied Kashmir, which broke out in 1990. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it provides only diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmir people.
“We have protested peacefully against these companies because of their Pakistani affiliates’ tweets in support of Kashmir,” said Hitendrasinh Rajput, spokesman for the VHP state unit in Gujarat’s largest city, Ahmedabad.
“We want to make it clear to these companies and others that Kashmir is an inseparable part of India,” Rajput said.
Companies such as Hyundai, Kia, Domino’s Pizza, Yum Brand’s Pizza Hut and KFC, Japan’s Suzuki Motor, Honda Motor and Isuzu Motor apologized as criticism of the reports grew.