The main accused in the alleged gang rape and torture of a young Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras has written to the Uttar Pradesh police, claiming that he and the three other accused are being framed in the case and sought "justice" for the four men. He also accused the woman's mother and brother of torturing her.
The letter has emerged amid police claims that there is evidence that the victim's family knew one of the accused.
Sandeep Thakur, who is in jail along with the three others, has written a letter to the police in Hathras, claiming that he and the 20-year-old woman were "friends". "Apart from meeting, we used to speak on the phone once in a while," he wrote on Wednesday, in the handwritten letter in Hindi. The letter has the thumb impressions of all four accused.
The UP police had claimed that call records reveal that the woman's brother had was in touch with Sandeep Thakur. Some 104 calls were made between the brother and Sandeep Thakur from October last year to March, the police claim.
Sandeep Thakur, in his letter, alleged that her family did not like their friendship. "On the day of the incident, I had gone to meet her in the fields that day where her mother and brothers were also present. I returned home after being asked by her to do so. I then started feeding cattle," he said.
"I later got to know from the villagers that her mother and brothers beat her up over our friendship, injuring her badly. 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. We're all innocent. Request you to please investigate and get us justice," he said.
A senior officer of Aligarh Jail, where the accused are, confirmed that the accused write a letter to the Hathras police. "They sent their letter to the Hathras Superintendent of Police yesterday evening. As per law, we have sent to the Hathras Superintendent of Police... They have put forth their version. Now the investigating agencies will see," Alok Singh, Senior Superintendent of Aligarh Jail, told reporters today.
The victim's father has 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," the woman's father told NDTV.
The woman was assaulted by four upper caste men of her village on September 14. She died last Tuesday of horrific injuries from the attack; she had multiple fractures, spinal injuries, a broken neck and a gash in her tongue.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra condemned the fresh allegations and theories that have emerged. "Creating a narrative that defames a woman's character and holding her somehow responsible for crimes committed against her is revolting and regressive," she tweeted, adding that the woman deserves "justice not slander".
On Wednesday, a Special Investigation Team or SIT, set up by the Yogi Adityanath government, was given 10 more days to deliver its findings. The three-member team questioned the woman's brother. "We have no contact with them. We have only one phone in the home. If the police has the audio of the calls, they must produce them," he said.