The prime accused in the alleged gang rape and brutal assault of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras has claimed that he and three other accused in the case are being framed by the woman’s family as her kin did not approve of the friendship between them.

In a handwritten letter to the Uttar Pradesh police, Sandeep Thakur claimed that he and the woman were "friends" and often spoke on the phone. He also accused the woman's mother and brother of torturing her. The letter has the thumb impressions of all four accused.

“I had gone to meet her in the fields on the day of the incident. Her mother and brothers were also present there. I came back to my house after being asked by her to do so. I then started feeding cattle. I later got to know from villagers that her mother and brothers thrashed her over our friendship, leading to serious injuries. I have never beaten her or done anything wrong with her. Her mother and brothers falsely accused me and three others and sent us to jail. All of us are innocent. We request you to please investigate this matter and give us justice," he said.

The accused said he also used to speak to the woman on phone apart from meeting her.

The letter in Hindi has surfaced just a day after BJP leader from Barabanki, Ranjeet Bahadur Srivastava, claimed that the four upper caste men are 'innocent' and it is the Dalit victim, who was 'awaara' (wayward).

On October 2, Uttar Pradesh minister Ajeet Singh Pal had described the alleged gang-rape and the subsequent death of the victim a fortnight later as a small issue, asserting that the teen was not raped at all. “Doctors have already made it clear that the Hathras woman was not raped,” Pal, the UP minister of state for Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement.

The UP police had previously said that call records reveal that the woman's brother had been in touch with Sandeep , and 104 calls were made between the brother and Sandeep from October last year to March.

However, speaking to news channel the victim's father denied the allegations made by the accused. "I have lost my daughter. Now they are trying to malign us. We are not afraid. The allegations are totally false. We don't need want any compensation or any money. We want justice," he said.

The 19-year-old was allegedly gang-raped on September 14 in an assault by four upper caste men that left her critically injured. She died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight later.
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