The chargesheet in the Manjula Shetye murder case has versions of jail inmates who have told investigators that it was not the first time that Shetye was assaulted. A senior police officer confirmed that Shetye was assaulted a few weeks prior to the fatal assault by six staffers of the Byculla women’s prison on June 23.
“There are witnesses who heard the prison staff tell Shetye that she will not be spared. Though, on the day of the incident, the assault was triggered over complaints of boiled eggs being distributed by Shetye, the accused had even on previous occasions held a grudge against her,” the official said.
The official added that Shetye, who had been shifted from Yerwada jail in Pune, was given the responsibility of a warden. “While she was expected to follow all orders of the prison staff, she held her own. Other inmates have said that though she never argued or answered back any staff, she did not follow all their instructions and hence they had a problem with her,” the official said, adding that Shetye had injuries to her eye after the first assault.
Along with CCTV footage showing the accused dragging down Shetye by her hair, the CCTV has also captured the events of the day of the fatal assault.“While Shetye is seen going up and down the stairs many times before she was assaulted, when she was brought back to her barrack on the first floor, she can be seen struggling to even take a step down the stairs,” the official added.
Other witnesses also include inmates who are foreign nationals who have told investigators that they had made oral complaints to their respective embassies regarding violence in the jail. “We have recorded statements of some foreign nationals under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. They have also spoken about the accused staffers and the inmates being subjected to violence many times. Statements of other inmates who were also appointed as wardens along with Shetye have also been recorded. Most of them sought a transfer to other prisons after the incident,” said an official.
Jailor Manisha Pokharkar and guards Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane were booked for murder and other charges by the Mumbai police in the case. The police submitted a chargesheet against the six on Tuesday before the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court.