The MNS action comes after a court in Mumbai Thursday asked its president, Raj Thackeray, to be present at a hearing next month in connection with an Amazon suit that alleged obstructive interference of the party into its business operations. The workers reportedly targeted an Amazon office in Pune, a warehouse in Mumbai and another facility in Chandivali in the central suburbs of the metropolis.
“We had approached them two to three months ago and had raised the issue of why they need to launch a Marathi app for Amazon,” said Nitin Sardesai, an MNS leader.
“They initially agreed. However, later on they refused. Then they went to court against us. We had that case quashed but now they have filed a second case against us, making party president (Raj Thackeray) and others the respondents.”
Sardesai said he was not aware of incidents of vandalism at the Amazon properties.
An Amazon India spokesperson said, “This is an unfortunate incident at our site by external parties and we are working with the site team to ensure safety of people. We will continue to extend all cooperation to law enforcement as may be necessary. Safety of associates is our key priority and we will continue to ensure a safe working environment for all our associates.”
For its part, Amazon said it would continue to expand the language options on its shopping platforms. “We remain committed to enabling Amazon online shopping experience across various Indian languages, including Marathi,” the Amazon spokesperson told ET. “Amazon customers can already shop in Hindi and four other regional languages in addition to English. We will continue to add more languages for an enhanced customer experience.”
Sources close to Amazon said the company would not have gone to court if it hadn’t faced repeated incidents of violence or vandalism at its Maharashtra facilities, although not all incidents were related to interventions by the MNS.
It approached the City Civil Court at Dindoshi in Mumbai after MNS workers reportedly vandalised outdoor advertisements put up by the company.
The MNS vandalism comes in the same week in which the Maharashtra government held its ‘Magnetic Maharashtra investor’ meet, where it signed MoUs worth Rs 65,000 crore. Maharashtra industries minister Subhash Desai told ET that the police would take action against the MNS workers involved in vandalism. Desai, however, added that he would also speak to Amazon officials on the Marathi app.
“This violence is definitely not acceptable and the police will take action against those who have indulged in it,” Desai said “I will also speak to Amazon’s senior officials because Maharashtra is a big market for them and majority of the people in the state speak Marathi. So, it would be in their business interest too to attract more consumers if they launch an app.”
A source aware of the discussions told ET that the MNS demand for Amazon to launch its app and website in Marathi is only one part of the issue, with the MNS having demanded that the company hire some of its volunteers. The talks fell through when Amazon refused to do so, saying that it could only hire people based on merit.
“The issue is not just about launching Amazon in Marathi even though that’s how they’ve made it appear,” a top industry source told ET. “They have been demanding that Amazon hire specific individuals who are their karyakartas, and that is why the talks fell through. Amazon has already told them that it is working on launching Marathi, apart from other languages, on a priority basis.”
MNS claimed that Amazon had filed several suits against the MNS and when they were vacated, it approached the Dindoshi court. Raj Thackeray has been asked to remain present in the Dindoshi court on January 5.
The Amazon petition does not specifically name Raj Thackeray, but the respondents are the party president and others.
The workers reportedly targeted an Amazon office in Pune, a warehouse in Mumbai and another facility in Chandivali.