The tweet triggered a diplomatic storm with India's External Affairs Ministry summoning South Korea's ambassador and lodging its protest.

As Hyundai Motors faced calls for a boycott of its car from incensed Indians on social media, Kashmiris said Hyundai Pakistan’s solidarity post helped shed light on the current situation in the territory.

"The UN in recent times have come up with so many statements, even all the rights groups are witnessing the deteriorating situation on the ground. These solidarity posts shed a light on how bad it is here," Muhammad, a scholar, who wants to be identified with his first name only, told TRT World.

"The locals in the region have been completely silenced. Speaking out has been criminalised so if anyone outside raises the issue, it is good for us," he added.

The solidarity post however did not go down well with many Indians, who consider Jammu and Kashmir as an "integral part" of the country. 

They accused the Pakistani affiliate of Hyundai of using "propaganda posters against India on Kashmir backing Pakistan sponsored terrorism." 

The controversy began on Sunday after a Pakistani distributor for Hyundai Motors Co. sent out a tweet saying "let us remember the sacrifices of our Kashmiri brothers and stand in support as they continue to struggle for freedom".

This one tweet created a ripple effect as fast-food chains in the country like KFC, Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza, also jumped on the bandwagon with more solidarity tweets. 

The South Korean automaker couldn't resist the Indian pressure and its Pakistani affiliate eventually deleted the post. 

Pakistan annually observes Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5, a public holiday that shows “support and unity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir” and their right to decide.

By Monday, South Korea's ambassador was summoned by India, protesting against the "unacceptable" post.

Kashmir has been militarily divided between India and Pakistan since the two countries came into being in 1947. Each side claims the whole territory and holds a part of it.

The bitter enemies have gone twice to war over Kashmir. 

India’s Narendra Modi’s government has pursued an aggressive policy to fight against separatist insurgency, and accuses Pakistan of supporting it.

Sumeera Jan, a private school teacher, said that the world cannot close its eyes to what is happening in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Today I was walking in Srinagar, the region's main city and it was all shut. These things are not being reported, but it does not change the reality that there is a conflict here and it needs a solution and solidarity from the world,” she said.

Journalists have long faced threats in Indian-administered Kashmir, but their situation got worse since India revoked the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019, throwing it under aggressive security and communication lockdown.

A year later, India’s new media policy sought control over press, arresting and interrogating journalists under their anti-terror law.

Another Kashmiri, however, said the post “does not help them in any way”.

"It seems that by this controversy, the two countries are satisfying their ego,” Burhan Ahmad, 35, told TRT World. 

Hyundai Motor responded saying the tweet was against it’s policy and also advised business associates to comply strictly with its communication policy, which does not express alignment with political or religious groups.

"We have since taken measures to ensure the distributor, which misused the Hyundai brand identity, has removed the social media posts,” Hyundai Motor said.

In 2020, Indian Twitter users, amid rising nationalism in the region, demanded to boycott Chinese-made goods at the height of a border clash between the two Asian giants which disrupted automobile supply chains and other industries.

India is a bigger market for companies compared to Pakistan. Hyundai alone is India’s second-largest car seller after Maruti Suzuki, selling almost half a million vehicles last fiscal year in the country.

Source: TRT World