A city-based lawyer and activist approached the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) and the Maharashtra State Commission for Women Tuesday seeking a fair probe into the death of Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye. The lawyer, Nazneen Khatri, the women’s cell president of NGO Jai Ho Foundation, has stated in her plea that women prisoners including Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, have been falsely charged because they stood up against “injustice by jail authorities”.
Khatri made a representation before the chief justice of Bombay High Court urging it to take suo motu action in the matter. The letter has sought the transfer of the “murder case” to the CBI or any other special investigating agency and the transfer of eyewitnesses in the case from the Byculla women’s prison to another facility, claiming that they might be threatened by the jail staff to change their statements. The plea also seeks quashing of the case of rioting against the 291 inmates and adequate compensation to the family of the victim.
“The incident is unfortunate. Shetye was brutally beaten to death and it needs to be probed. The voice of the protesting prisoners must be heard. Therefore, I have approached the commission and the High Court for action,” said Khatri. She added that she would meet the other women inmates Wednesday to collect more details and eyewitness accounts.
Shetye, a murder convict, was allegedly brutally assaulted by the jail staff that led to her death on June 23. This sparked off protests by women prisoners including Indrani Mukerjea inside the jail, following which all 291 inmates were booked on charges of rioting and assaulting jail staff.
“This is a case of human rights violation. Also, other jail inmates had no other way to protest and their voices needed to be heard against the injustice and cruelty by jail authorities. As a natural human emotion of anger, they protested against the jail authority’s inhuman act. Also, prison authorities and Nagpada police are falsely trapping Indrani Mukerjea and many others for instigating the protest and inciting violence,” Nazneen’s letter to the commission and the chief justice reads.
Meanwhile, the women’s commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the violence that broke out in the prison following Shetye’s death. The commission wrote to the Byculla jail authorities Tuesday seeking a reply.