A day after a post on a messenger service purportedly sent by Maharashta DIG Prisons Swati Sathe allegedly sympathizing with the six Byculla jail staff arrested for the murder of an inmate went viral, Sathe on Friday wrote to her seniors requesting to step down from the inquiry entrusted on her. After the death of convict Manuja Shetye inside the Byculla prison on June 23, the department had asked Sathe to probe if the arrested staff members were responsible for assaulting Shetye leading to her death.
Referring to the arrested accused as ‘sisters’, Sathe on a group created on WhatsApp messenger service has posted a couple of messages requesting other senior officials from the Prisons Cadre to provide monetary support to the arrested accused for their bail.
The 31-year old Bhandup resident was serving life term for the murder of her sister-in-law in Yerwada jail since 2005, and was recently shifted to Byculla prison. On June 23, she was allegedly assaulted by the jail staff after a brawl over distribution of eggs and bread in the jail owing to a complaint by other inmates to the jailor. The next day, the inmates lodged at the Byculla facility protested and caused riot burning files, breaking CCTV and using kitchenware to attack the staff.
Six staffers including jailor Manisha Pokharkar and guards Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaokar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane have been suspended following the incident.
Last week , the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested the six jail staff for allegedly killing Shetye in the custody. The Crime Branch is also probing into the rioting case lodged against the 291 inmates including undertrial Indrani Mukerjea.
While the six jail staff have been booked for the murder of Shetye, another FIR has been registered against the 291 inmates on the charges of riots and criminal conspiracy.
In a related development, earlier in the week , suspended Thane jailor Hiralal Jadhav had written to the Chief Minister seeking action against Sathe on her alleged WhatsApp posts.
Sathe had also deposed before the Maharashta State Women’s Commission or MSWC which has set up a three-member Special Investigation Team to probe the two incidents.
Sathe had submitted a report to the MSWC detailing the action taken by the Prisons Department against the staff and the case registered against the inmates who caused riot inside the jail premises. The report also attached the findings of Shetye’s post morterm report and the inquest panchanama drawn by the police. The inquest has ruled out sexual assault on Shetye.