A Zomato delivery executive, who was accused of physically assaulting a customer in Bengaluru, on Thursday refuted the allegations made by the woman that he barged into her house without provocation, and punched her, The News Minute reported.

Kamaraj, who was suspended by the food aggregator over the allegations, told the news portal that it was the complainant, Hitesha Chandranee, who verbally abused him first and then hit him with a slipper. “For my safety, when she was hitting me, I tried to use my hand to shield her blows,” he said.

He also denied punching her, saying the woman accidentally hit her nose with a ring on her finger as she was trying to push away his hand. “Anybody who sees her face, will understand that this [wound] wouldn’t be created by a punch,” Kamaraj was quoted as saying by The News Minute. “And I don’t wear any rings.”

On March 10, Chandranee, a makeup artist and model by profession, shared a video of herself crying as she bled from her nose and mouth. She blamed Kamraj for the wounds, alleging he punched her, and ran off. In her Instagram video, she can be seen wearing a ring.

Chandranee said that she had complained to the Zomato customer care after her order was delayed. She said she told them to either deliver the food free of cost or cancel the order. When the delivery person arrived she refused to accept the order, and told Kamraj to take it back, the woman said.

“But he refused to take the order back and started screaming, ‘bloody I am your slave or what’,” she said in the video. Chandranee said she tried to push the door to move away from the man. “But he was so huge, he pushed back the door, snatched the order back from me and punched me,” she continued. “Then he ran away.”

‘She was very rude from the beginning’

The Zomato executive rejected the version of events, alleging that Chandranee was “was very rude” to him from the outset.

“After I reached her apartment door, I handed her the food and I was expecting her to pay me,” Kamaraj told The News Minute. “I also apologised since the delivery was delayed due to traffic and bad roads. But she kept on insisting that the order has to be delivered within 45-50 minutes”.

Eventually, Chandranee accepted the food, but she refused to pay for it, he said. Fearing that he will lose money, Kamaraj said he pleaded her to not do that. “At this point, she called me a ‘slave’ and then she started shouting,” he alleged. “In the meantime, Zomato support told me that they have cancelled the order from their end based on her request and I asked her to return the food but she did not cooperate.”

Kamaraj said he decided he would leave the apartment building without taking her food. “At this point, when I was walking towards the lift, she started using expletives in Hindi,” he told the news website. “She suddenly threw slippers at me and started hitting me.”

The Zomato executive then had to run down the stairs to escape, he said. On Wednesday, Kamaraj was called by the Electronic City Phase 1 Police Station in Bengaluru, where he was questioned for two hours. “The police did not disrespect me in any way,” he told The News Minute. “But now I have to spend Rs 25,000 for legal expenses to prevent my arrest.”

Ring too blunt to cause the injury, says Chandranee

Meanwhile, on Friday Chandranee denied abusing the delivery person first and offered her version of the incident. She told NDTV that her ring was too blunt to cause the injury that she suffered.

Chandranee further claimed that she did not abuse the delivery person first, and that he was the one who was rude to her. “It was my reaction out of fear,” she added. “I panicked. It was in the heat of the moment, it was not intentional...I never hit him with slippers.”

Zomato helping both Kamaraj and Chandranee

Amid the accusations and counter-accusations, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said the company was helping both Kamaraj and Chandranee. “We are in constant touch with Hitesha, covering her medical expenses and helping her with the proceedings,” he said in a statement on Twitter. “We are also in touch with Kamraj, extending all possible support to make sure both sides of the story come to light and the due process is followed in the spirit of fairness.”

Goyal added that Zomato had temporarily suspended Kamraj but was covering his earnings amid the police investigation. “We are also covering his legal expenses pertaining to the case,” Goyal said.

The Zomato founder also said that the delivery person had a strong rating on the platform. “Also, for the record – Kamaraj has made 5,000 deliveries for us so far, and has a 4.75/5 star rating on our platform (which is one of the highest), and has been working with us for 26 months now,” he said. Goyal clarified that these were facts and not opinions or inferences.