The five jail guards arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch on Saturday for the alleged murder of inmate Manjula Shetye were produced in court on Sunday and remanded in police custody till July 7. Sub-inspector Manisha Pokharkar and constables Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane were produced at the holiday court on Sunday afternoon after the Crime Branch arrested them from outside a lawyer’s office Saturday evening.
Constable Bindu Naikode had been arrested on Saturday morning and produced in court the same day. The proceedings in court were interrupted by another advocate, who sought permission to produce his client, an undertrial at Byculla women’s jail, to record her witness statement. However, the magistrate directed him to file his application before the regular court on Monday.
The Crime Branch has started recording statements of other prisoners in the jail, who claim to have witnessed the assault on Shetye (31) last Friday. “The sequence of events is clear now. The dispute between Shetye and jail guards began over eggs and paav (bun),” said a Crime Branch official. However, the Crime Branch said, the allegation in the FIR filed last week, that Shetye was sexually assaulted by the arrested women with a wooden lathi, was unfounded.
“The post-mortem has found there was no external injury to her private parts,” said the officer. A Crime Branch official added that it was also probing the relations between the arrested jail guards and Shetye, who was transferred to Byculla from Yerwada jail as a prisoner warden in April this year. The Crime Branch is also investigating whether there had been complaints by prisoners regarding the conduct of the jail guards.
On Sunday, the Crime Branch also recorded statements of Shetye’s brothers Anant and Sharad. It is now awaiting a report from the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, which is analysing CCTV footage from the jail premises. Shetye was allegedly assaulted on the morning of June 23, but was only taken to J J Hospital in the evening when her condition worsened and a prisoner found her in the washroom.
She was declared dead in the hospital. The news of her death had triggered protests by other prisoners on June 24, with the inmates assaulting jail guards and destroying jail property. Several inmates climbed atop the prison’s terrace, where they set ablaze to clothes and chanted slogans, the police said. The Nagpada police station then booked 291 inmates for rioting.