It's biz as usual for U.S. cola giants in India after attacks

Tuesday, 25 March 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: The Indian arm of the U.S. cola giants Tuesday asserted that the attack on their warehouses in Andhra Pradesh by Maoist guerrillas protesting the U.S.-led war on Iraq would not affect their operations.

But they said the attack on the Coca-Cola and Pepsi property highlighted the need to maintain strict security around American establishments to protect "business and customers" from vandalism.

"Our operations are going on as usual. But we have become more vigilant after the attack. We are cooperating with law enforcing agencies to beef up security around our plants," Sunil Gupta, vice president of Coca-Cola India, told IANS.

Coca-Cola, which employs 5,500 people in India, said it had asked various state governments to protect its plants and offices.

Members of the outlawed People's War Group (PWG) attacked warehouses of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Prakasham and Anantapur districts of Andhra Pradesh Sunday as a mark of protest against the U.S.-led war on Iraq. But no one was hurt.

Gupta said the rebels left three-page notes at the scene of the blast that said the action was to denounce the American-led war that entered its sixth day Tuesday.

It also demanded withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Gulf. The attack came as a large number of Indians are returning to Andhra Pradesh from the Gulf following the outbreak of war.

"There was no loss to property and people in the attack. Only some stock of soft drink was destroyed," the Coca-Cola India official said.

"But we want to highlight the fact that we are basically an Indian company, owned by Indian and employs over 5,000 Indian people. These kind of attack will only affect our efforts to contribute to the nation's economy," Gupta added.

In October 2001, PWG had bombed a Coca-Cola bottling plant at Atmakuru in Andhra Pradesh to avenge U.S. military strikes on Afghanistan.

"Such acts against corporate houses are unacceptable and it is not going to affect our business in any manner," said an official of Pepsi India.

Source: IANS
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