NEW DELHI - Google began removing the apps of 10 companies in India on Friday, including some popular matrimony apps such as Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri, in a dispute over service fee payments in one of the company's fastest-growing markets.

Indian startups have for years been protesting against many of the U.S. giant's practices, including its in-app fee charges. Google says its fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store app ecosystem.

On Friday, India's matchmaking apps Bharat Matrimony, Christian Matrimony, Muslim Matrimony and Jodii were removed from Google's Play Store, its founder Murugavel Janakiraman told Reuters.

He said it was a dark day for India's internet.

"Our apps are getting deleted one by one. It literally means all the top matrimony services will be deleted," he said.

Matrimonial apps and websites have been growing in popularity in India as younger people shun traditional matchmaking by parents.'s Bharat Matrimony app had been downloaded more than 50 million times, Janakiraman said. The company said it has more than 40 million customers.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, sent notices on Friday of Play Store violations to and Info Edge .

Info Edge's job search app Naukri and real estate search firm 99acres were also removed, according to Google Play Store listings. shares fell as much as 2.7% initially but closed up 2.2% on Friday, while Info Edge dropped 1.5% before paring losses.

The dispute centres on efforts by some Indian startups to stop Google from imposing a fee of 11% to 26% on in-app payments, after the country's antitrust authorities ordered it to dismantle an earlier system of charging 15% to 30%.

But Google effectively received the go-ahead to charge the fee or remove apps after two court decisions in January and February, one by the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Friday, Info Edge founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani told Reuters it had cleared all pending Google invoices in a timely manner and was compliant with its policies.

In a blog post, Google said 10 Indian companies had chosen for an extended period of time not to pay for the "immense value they receive on Google Play". It did not identify the firms.

"For years, no court or regulator has denied Google Play's right to charge," the company said.

Google said allowing some developers "to get differential treatment from the vast majority of developers who are paying their fair share creates an uneven playing field."

Google dominates the Indian market as 94% of phones are based on its Android platform.

Only 3% of the more than 200,000 Indian developers who use the Google Play platform are required to pay any service fee, Google said.

In 2020, Google briefly removed popular Indian payments app Paytm from its Play Store citing some policy violations. The move led to the company's founder and the wider startup industry joining together to challenge Google by launching their own app stores and filing legal cases.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue, Clarence Fernandez, Kim Coghill, Elaine Hardcastle)