- The accused says he was beaten with shoes and abuses were hurled at him
- Zomato says it is supporting both, pending investigations
- Want "both sides of the story to come to light", Zomato said
Two days after a Bengaluru woman alleged she was attacked by a Zomato delivery agent and shared videos showing her bleeding nose, there are two versions of a story that now involves an investigation and that has divided social media. The accused man, Kamaraj, says he was beaten with shoes and abuses were hurled at him, which the customer, Hitesha Chandranee, has emphatically denied. Zomato says it is supporting both, pending investigations, and wants "both sides of the story to come to light".
Hitesha Chandranee, a content creator, said on Wednesday, leading up to the incident, she had been on the phone constantly with Zomato's customer service over her delayed food order.
"I had full right to fight with customer support when I am paying. I kept saying either cancel my order or do me a favour by making it free," Ms Chandranee said.
"The moment I asked him (Kamaraj) whether Zomato had told him anything about cancelling the order or waiving the charges, he was very rude. He said 'Ma'am, I have no idea, please don't waste my time. Give me my money and let me go."
Ms Chandranee said she then told Zomato's customer care that the man was shouting at her. "He sounded very threatening to me," she said.
She alleged that when he shouted, she tried to shut the door and he pushed against it, saying - "Tu kya kar rahi hai (what are you doing)?" He reached in and grabbed the order and left, she claimed.
"I told him you can't do this. Then he punched me. It happened within two minutes. I couldn't understand what was happening. He ran to the lift...I didn't know my nose was bleeding. When I gathered myself, I went after him and stopped him. He hit me again and, as the lift wouldn't shut, pushed me and ran down the stairs," she alleged.
None of this is on camera as there is no CCTV, according to her.
Mr Kamaraj was arrested and released on bail and is now under temporary suspension from Zomato with a police case against him.
Speaking to NDTV, he denied striking the woman and claimed it was she who had verbally abused him, thrown shoes at him and accidentally hurt herself. He also claimed he had apologized to her and, after talking to Zomato, asked her to return the food but she refused.
He admitted picking up the food from her table and walking off.
"She started abusing me. There was a slipper stand near the door. She took chappals and started beating me," said Kamaraj, breaking down.
"I was totally shocked. For my safety I hit her hand. She was wearing a ring. That ring hit her nose and then the injury happened. I didn't punch her...I was totally scared, so I left the place."
He said she followed him and kept hitting him, forcing him to take the stairs and run to the third floor.
"This is my full time job...," he said, weeping as he talked about his arrest and bail.
Ms Chandranee said she never started with abuses, that he was rude first. "It was my reaction out of fear. I panicked. It was in the heat of the moment, it was not intentional," she told NDTV.
Showing the ring that she said was too blunt to cause that sort of injury, she said: "I never hit him with slippers. When he ran, for my own defence I did it. What if he had done worse?"
The restaurant aggregator's founder Deepinder Goyal tweeted a statement in which he said his company was helping both Hitesha and Kamaraj "with all the support they need while the investigation is pending".
Mr Goyal said the company would follow the law and support both sides - Ms Chandranee and Mr Kamaraj - while the probe was on. Zomato has suspended Kamaraj but is paying him and also covering his legal fee. The company said Kamaraj had made 5,000 deliveries and had a 4.75/5 star rating, one of the highest, asserting that these were facts and not opinions.