Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch on Saturday arrested the jailor and five guards of Byculla women’s jail in the city in the case of alleged custodial killing of an inmate, Manjula Shetye, on June 23. Besides jailor Manisha Pokharkar, jail guards arrested were identified as Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane. They had been placed under suspension by the Prisons Department pending inquiry following the alleged murder and rioting in the jail on June 24.
According to sources, Naikode, a constable posted at the jail, was the first of the officials to be arrested on Saturday morning. The others were arrested in the evening. Confirming the arrests, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sanjay Saxena told The Sunday Express that their custodial interrogation was necessary to ascertain their exact role.
While Naikode was arrested when she was on her way to meet her lawyer, the other five accused were picked up from outside their advocate’s office, where they had gone to seek advice on filing an anticipatory bail application seeking interim relief from arrest. They were taken into custody for questioning and subsequently placed under arrest.
The Crime Branch has also taken over the probe into the rioting case lodged against 291 women inmates, including undertrial Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the murder of her daughter, Sheena Bora. The Crime Branch has received Mukerjea’s application complaining about assault by the jailor during the riots on June 24.
While hearing her application earlier this week, the special CBI court had asked her to lodged a complaint with the local police. According to sources, Naikode and another constables are seen in the CCTV footage allegedly assaulting Shetye with lathis and then dragging her to the stairway, where she was purported beaten a second time.
The probe so far has revealed that the confrontation started after two inmates complained against Shetye for allegedly stealing their two eggs and a few bread slices. The autopsy showed that severe blunt injuries on her head, back and legs; it ruled out sexual assault.
“Cameras are not installed inside the women’s barracks…there are CCTVs in the gangway. In one such footage, Nikade and others are seen dragging Shetye to the stairway, which is also a blind spot,” an official privy to the probe details said. Shetye, 31, a resident of Bhandup in Mumbai’s eastern suburbs, was serving a life term since 2005 for the murder of her sister-in-law in Yerwada Jail and was recently shifted to Byculla prison.