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India threatens to deny visas for Amazon workers over doormat spat

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Amazon has apologized to India's foreign minister for selling doormats depicting the Indian flag on the online shopping giant's Canadian website. To the extent that these items offered by a third- party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same.

The Canadian third-party seller - which also sells mats with other national flags, including the USA, United Kingdom and Canada - removed the Indian-themed product, following Swaraj's Twitter threat.

Under India's law, any desecration of the flag is punishable with fine and imprisonment.

"We value immensely our relationship with the Indian government, the country's entrepreneurs and innovators, a most importantly our Indian customers and employees", Agarwal said.

In a strict warning to the e-commerce giant, Swaraj said that the sale of such products should be repealed at the earliest. On Amazon, there are several products still uploaded for sale which might hurt Indian sentiments and sentiments of people following various religions in this diverse country. "At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments", Agarwal wrote.

This heavy-handed tactic proved to be effective - Amazon has removed the product. "Delete this listing immediately".

Responding to this, the minister tweeted: "Indian High Commission in Canada: This is unacceptable. Please take this up with Amazon at the highest level".

"Amazon must tender an unconditional apology".

A spokesperson for Amazon Canada declined to provide any additional comment. "After learning of the product's listing, we immediately removed them from the Canadian website and implemented measures to ensure that these products could not be sold on any of our other marketplace or websites", the letter said. She warned that if Amazon did not apologise, none of its "officials" would be granted Indian visas, and the visas issued earlier would also be rescinded.

"We have escalated this to our concerned teams and are working on the issue", the tweet said.

The doormats with the Indian flag on it were being sold as "personalised machine-washable durable indoor/outdoor welcome doormats".

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