AMAZON DRAWS IRE AGAIN, THIS TIME FOR ‘OFFENSIVE’ RELIGIOUS PRINT ON FOOTWEAR
Now, yet again, controversy has sprung up over the well-known digital forum allegedly selling footwear that depicts a range of religious iconography — including images of Lord Ganesh, the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Kali, verses from the Quran, Jesus Christ and the Holy Cross, as well as various religious monuments and places of worship.
A first information report (FIR) detailing this was filed with Cantonment police on Thursday, both against Amazon.com and the manufacturing company of the footwear, CafePress, by Shaniwar Peth resident Hafizuddin Shaduuddin Kazi (39). An advocate, Kazi had recently come across what he said are objectionable products while shopping online. His complaint elaborated, "While looking for some footwear for personal use online on February 14, I saw a link to CafePress items that listed out footwear categorised as 'God Flip Flops'. I also saw that Amazon is selling these items online."
He further alleged, "I was shocked to see various highly objectionable prints and sketches on the footwear, depicting Hindu gods and holy symbols from other religions, too. I saw slippers inscribed with images of Ganesha, Durga, Lakshmi and Kali, as well as several others. There were also verses from the Quran printed on the chappals, as well as images of dargahs and mosques, besides a depiction of Jesus Christ and the Holy Cross. Some footwear had the word 'Allah' printed on it as well; others said 'Walking with Jesus' or 'I love Jesus'."
Kazi claimed that when he tried to check where such CafePress items were being sold, he found them listed on Amazon. "I also found footwear with the Indian flag and the word 'India' printed on it. The prices of the items were in US dollars," he said in his complaint, and later told Mirror, "I have mentioned the names of three directors of Amazon India, namely Perinchery Vasudevanraman Elayath, Ashish Jain and Atul Jain, as accused persons, for hurting national and religious sentiments."
Cantonment police station inspector Vaishali Chandgude said, "After receiving the complaint, we have booked both companies under sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc.), and 295 (A) (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as relevant sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act. We are taking the help of the cybercrime cell to investigate this case."
Earlier this year, in January, strong protests has taken place in India over Amazon selling doormats depicting the national flag; later, the e-retail behemoth removed the 'offensive' article from its Canadian website.
Despite repeated efforts on Thursday to contact Amazon India, based out of Bangalore, company officials were not forthcoming with any specific details. Parvathi Nair, a spokesperson from corporate communications at Amazon.in, only said, "While we believe these products are not sold on Amazon.in, we are investigating the matter further."