South Korea's Hyundai Motor said on Tuesday it deeply regrets any offence caused to Indians by an "unauthorised" tweet from the account of its Pakistan partner that expressed solidarity for the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).
"As a business policy, Hyundai Motor Company does not comment on political or religious issues in any specific region," Hyundai said in a Twitter post.
The company said its independently-owned distributor in Pakistan made "unauthorised" IoK-related social media posts from its accounts, and "misused the Hyundai brand identity".
"We deeply regret any offence caused to the people of India by this unofficial social media activity. We have put in place processes to prevent a future recurrence," Hyundai said.
Hyundai's apology comes after it faced calls for a boycott by hundreds of social media users in India, which considers the whole of Kashmir as part of the country — a position rejected by Pakistan. The social media users said the company must apologise for being insensitive to India's position in the decades-old dispute.
Hyundai is India's second-largest car seller after Maruti Suzuki, selling close to half a million vehicles in the country in the last fiscal year and exporting over a million units, making it India's largest car exporter.
The row erupted on Sunday, a day after Pakistan marked the annual Kashmir Solidarity Day. Posts on behalf of Hyundai's partner, the Nishat Group, appeared on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram commemorating the sacrifices of Kashmiris struggling for self-determination.
The Nishat Group, Pakistan's largest business conglomerate, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Indian MEA summons S. Korean ambassador
Meanwhile, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the South Korean ambassador on Monday to convey the government's "strong displeasure" over the social media post.
According to Indian news agency ANI, the Indian external affairs minister also discussed the post with his Korean counterpart on a telephone call. "While they discussed several issues, the [Korean] foreign minister also conveyed that they regretted the offence caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post," according to a statement of the MEA shared by ANI.
In addition, India's ambassador to Seoul contacted the Hyundai Headquarters to seek an explanation, the statement added.