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'Hitler' clothing store in India sparks row

Ajit Solanki / AP

Indians walk past a shop named "Hitler" in Ahmedabad, India, on Wednesday.

The owner of an Indian men's clothing store whose name has sparked a row in Ahmedabad city in the western state of Gujarat said he only recently learned why the name Hitler would disturb people, the AFP news agency reported

"I didn't know how much the name would disturb people," Rajesh Shah told AFP. "It was only when the store opened I learned Hitler had killed six million people."

The store opened 10 days ago, boasting a storefront that spells out "Hitler" in big letters and a swastika as the dot on the "i."

"We had put up a cloth banner for over a month saying, 'Hitler opening shortly,' no one objected to the name then," Shah told The Times of India.

He added that to him Hitler was just the nickname given to his business partner's grandfather, who was known for his "strict nature."

"Frankly, till the time we applied for the trademark permission, I had only heard that Hitler was a strict man. It was only recently that we read about Hitler on the internet," Shah told The Times of India. 

Shah said he cannot afford to change the name after spending his money on the original branding effort, but said he'd be willing to change it if he were compensated. 

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The city's small Jewish community has condemned the name, AFP reported.

"In the city of Mahatma Gandhi and non-violence, how can anyone celebrate a person like Hitler who is known to have murdered millions of unarmed ordinary civilians?" Nikitin Contractor, convener of the Friends of Israel organization from Vadodara told The Times of India. 

"Youngsters need to be told of the atrocities that [Adolf] Hitler committed and the millions who were killed in gas chambers more than 70 years ago," he added.

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According to a BBC report, Hitler memorabilia has become a growing business in India, attracting particularly younger Indians. Many reportedly admire Hitler's discipline.

Prayag Thakkar, a 19-year-old student in Gujarat state, told the BBC: "I have idolized Hitler ever since I have had a sense of history. I admire his leadership qualities and his discipline."

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