Stayzilla Co-founder Yogendra Vasupal denied bail; family says it is a game of character assassination

Sainul Abudheen

He was arrested on a complaint filed by Jigsaw Advertising, which alleged that Stayzilla had failed to make payments of over US$250K for the services rendered since Feb 2016

Stayzilla Co-founder and CEO Yogendra Vasupal, who was arrested and jailed over charges of cheating and criminal intimidation nine days ago, was denied bail by a Metropolitan Magistrate Court here on Thursday, on the basis of a pending custody application by the investigation agency.

Dismissing Vasupal’s contention that the criminal charges levelled against him are part of pressure tactics to settle a civil dispute, the court granted one day custody of him to the police.

Vasupal was arrested by the Chennai police a few days after he announced the shut-down of his online home-stay marketplace Stayzilla, based on a complaint filed by CS Aditya of Jigsaw Advertising and Solutions who alleged that Stayzilla had failed to make payments for the services rendered since February 2016 and cheated him of INR 1.69 crore (over US$250,000).

Also Read: We MUST learn from the #Stayzilla incident, but are we learning at all?

Just before his arrest, Vasupal wrote in a blog post in which he claimed innocence and sought the industry support to secure his release. Renowned entrepreneurs like Flipkart Co-founder Sachin Bansal and Freshdesk CEO Girish Mathrubootham, rallied behind him. They also sent an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called for a free and fair investigation into the dispute.

Stayzilla Co-founder and CEO Yogendra Vasupal

Stayzilla Co-founder and CEO Yogendra Vasupal

Meanwhile, a new blog post appeared yesterday in which Vasupal’s family and friends said the ‘divergence between truth and power here is allowing questions and discussions to pan out leading to further insecurities for both parties.’

In the post, titled ‘The game of Character Assassination’, they said Vasupal’s family is still living in tremendous fear: “Crime is what Aditya did to our families — life threat to our kids, rape threat and false brothel case threat (refer to Yogi’s (Vasupal) previous blog for the call record) and we are still living in tremendous fear, anxiety & insecurity (wish I could truly translate how it is to be in our shoes exactly). Our plea and cry to all those reading — Press, Entrepreneurs, Investors and Government officials is Get Yogi out first and LET THE TRUTH PREVAIL!!!”.

They added that the bail process is delayed and there’s a new challenge every few hours. Yogi’s family is struggling, running pillar to post to see to it that this sees the day of light at the earliest so he can be back to his family and kids.

“Yogi’s family, friends, ex-employees, management and board fully support him and stand strong with him. We must remember — The only one question here is :“HOW did a civil matter become Criminal?”, and if it is done to Yogi — it can be done to any entrepreneur(any one in fact). This is a disputed invoice with the vendor for non-performance of services under dispute with the company.”

Criminalising a person who was solely and earnestly working towards these closures has blocked the path for everyone else for Aditya’s selfish reasons. “It is not only hurtful to Stayzilla’s existing partners but also demoralizing for entrepreneurs across,” they alleged.

Stayzilla, owned and operated by Chennai-based Insra Technologies, halted its operations in February. The startup is now looking to reboot it with a different business model. The firm was started in 2006 by Vasupal and wife Rupal Yogendra. In early 2015, it received US$15 million in its Series B round of funding led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from existing investor Matrix Partners. It had earlier raised an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Matrix in October 2013.

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