Kamaraj, the Zomato delivery executive who is accused of assaulting Hitesha Chandranee, a software engineer and beauty influencer, thinks he was assaulted because “he is a local” of Bengaluru.
Talking to The Quint, Rupesh Rajanna, a Kannada language activist, said that Kamaraj has lodged a complaint to this effect with Kannada Rakshana Vedike (KRV), an organisation that claims to represent Kannada linguistic and regional rights.
Kamaraj’s complaint to the organisation states that Chandranee had “abused him in Hindi” as he replied in English and Kannada. Leaders of Kannada Rakshana Vedike say that Kamaraj, a Bengaluru resident was attacked for his identity as a south Indian man.
This fresh twist in the assault case has come as Kamaraj seems to have got the backing of KRV.
‘No Clout For ‘Local’ Delivery Executives’
Rajanna's Kannada Rakshana Vedike has also provided Kamaraj with a lawyer. “Chandranee is a north Indian woman. She treated a local man improperly. This attitude cannot be condoned,” Rajanna told The Quint.
“She behaved as if he was inferior to her. The reason for the behaviour cannot just be her higher societal status. It is because he is a south Indian man that she behaved that way with him”Rupesh Rajanna
As the north-south conflict intensified in Bengaluru on Wednesday, 17 March, Karnataka police said that Chandranee has left the city for fear of safety. Her home address was reportedly leaked on social media. Chandranee hails from Maharashtra.
The incident came to light when Chandranee, who works at a software firm in Bengaluru, put up a video of herself, narrating her version of an alleged assault that took place at her residence on 10 March. She accused delivery executive Kamaraj of punching her and breaking her nose.
On March 11, Kamaraj spoke to the media and accused Chandranee of verbally abusing him and hurling slippers at him. In the altercation that ensued between them as food was allegedly delivered late, Chandranee hurt herself with her ring, he added. On 16 March Kamaraj lodged a complaint against her with Bengaluru police.
While the Electronic city police have booked Kamaraj for assault and voluntarily causing hurt based on Chandranee’s complaint lodged on 10 March, the latter is now booked on charges of criminal intimidation and assault based on the former’s complaint.
“Kamaraj came to me because he was not being backed by anyone. When I heard his story I realised that only Chandranee’s version was being heard and his was being ignored. There are many such local delivery executives and drivers who are wrongly accused,” Rupesh Rajanna said. It was Rajanna who accompanied Kamaraj to the police station on 16 March to lodge the complaint against Chandranee.
Kamaraj is originally from Tamil Nadu. “He has been living in Bengaluru since he was 11 years old. For humanity’s sake Kannada organisations have supported him,” said Rajanna. He added that the ’cultural superiority’ displayed by the north Indian residents of Bengaluru cannot be condoned.
The ‘North-South’ Divide
Rajanna, who interviewed Kamaraj in a Facebook 'Live' video session on 12 March said, stirring regional sentiment, “She abused him in Hindi and called him a slave. This is a regional issue”.
Kannada Rakshana Vedike has been receiving complaints from other delivery executives and drivers “about similar incidents of assault”, claims Rajanna. The group has now asked Zomato to provide their executives with cameras on their headgear. “Assaults on such executives can then be monitored,” said Rajanna.
Rajanna’s parochial view has not be accepted by other activists on social media platforms who have been supporting Kamaraj and demanding a fair probe into the incident.
Zomato has provided financial support to both Chandranee and Kamaraj for medical expenses and living expenses respectively. Kamaraj is currently under suspension from Zomato service.
When contacted, Chandranee was not available for comment. The report will be updated when she responds.
Bengaluru city police, meanwhile, maintained that “there is no eyewitness for the altercation”. Currently the police are relying on two versions of the same story which have surfaced from the two parties, an officer investigating the matter said.
Ruling out any regional sentiment which could have created the altercation, a police officer said, “It can be said that both were angry. But we cannot say at this point that she attacked him because of any regional animosity. That is out of the question”.
Have social media posts against Chandranee been reflecting misogyny? “No one verbally assaulted her. She abused him thinking no one will take his side,” claims Rajanna. Kamaraj has been the “worst affected” party in the case as he needs financial aid and has been depending on friends for the same, he added.
Meanwhile, a series of social media posts, claiming that Chandranee had earlier misbehaved with other delivery agents, have cropped up.