THE SIX women jail staffers of Byculla jail accused of a murderous assault on convict Manjula Shetye on June 23 were on Friday remanded in judicial custody and will be lodged in Thane jail. The investigation team of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch submitted before a magistrate’s court that as the probe was ongoing, the accused should be lodged in either Thane or Kalyan women’s prison. The incident of assault was followed by a riot by the women inmates of Byculla prison agitating against the jail staff and poor conditions inside the prison.
The crime branch is currently recording the statements of the inmates who are witnesses in the case. Public prosecutor Rajendra Suryavanshi submitted before the court that the decision on which prison the accused would be sent to lay with jail authorities. The court directed the prosecution to file an application if it had specific grounds to not send the accused to Byculla prison.
The defence lawyer engaged by the accused women expressed apprehension regarding safety in Byculla prison. “It poses a threat to the lives of the accused,” said advocate Pankaj Bafna, who is representing the accused. After an application was filed by the investigating team, additional chief metropolitan magistrate Raghavendra Aradhye directed the six accused to be sent to Thane prison.
Advocate Nitin Satpute, representing the complainant in the case — Byculla prison inmate Mariam Shaikh — submitted that the jail authorities should ensure that no preferential treatment is extended to the six accused and that they be kept under CCTV surveillance. Jailor Manisha Pokharkar and guards Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane were produced in the metropolitan magistrate’ s court at the end of their 14-day police custody.
All six accused were suspended by the prison authorities following the incident on June 23 and were subsequently arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch. The Crime Branch is simultaneously probing into the rioting case lodged against all 291 inmates of the women’s prison, including undertrial Indrani Mukerjea. While the six jail staff members have been booked for the murder of Shetye, an FIR has been registered against the 291 inmates on charges of riots and criminal conspiracy.