Byculla inmate death: ‘After assault, accused laughed, warned others of same fate’

The chargesheet claims that the jail authorities tried to cover up the case by alleging that Shetye had suffered a fall.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai | Published: October 4, 2017 4:24:23 am
All 6 accused are arrested in Byculla jail murder case produce kill court. Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar

Shortly after the assault on Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye in June, one of the accused Bindu Naikode had laughed and said it would be the fate of anyone who makes a mistake, a jail inmate has claimed. The inmate’s statement forms part of the chargesheet filed in the Shetye murder case by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch before the metropolitan magistrate last week.

The inmate, Kritika Dahal, in her statement has told the police that after they witnessed the assault on June 23, in the evening, around 5.30-6, Naikode had come to barrack number 6. “I asked her why warder Manjula Shetye was beaten so much. She told me that anyone who makes a mistake will be beaten up like her, before laughing,” Dahal has said.Multiple witness accounts have put together the incident that led to Shetye’s assault.

The complainant in the case, Mariyam Sheikh, has told the police that at 9am, Shetye was distributing eggs to the inmates. Jailor Manisha Pokharkar reprimanded Shetye as there was a shortage of two eggs and five slices of bread. The other five accused asked Shetye where the eggs and breads and gone and began assaulting her.

The other witnesses pointed out that Shetye was “targeted” by the accused many times. One witness said that before Shetye was made a warder in
June, there were two warders, whom the jail authorities allegedly favoured.

The witness claims that the accused persons were not happy with Shetye being appointed as the warder and kept finding faults in her work.  “The jail staff would sometimes assign many things for Shetye to do and then also  ask her to do night watch on other inmates. She would have no time to even have a bath or wash her clothes,” the witness said.

An inmate at the women’s prison, Ranjana Rathod, said that after Shetye was assaulted in her barrack, the accused first asked another inmate to exchange the broken eggs she had received with proper ones that Shetye had. Another inmate also complained that Shetye did not give enough time during mulaqat (meetings) with relatives.

The accused then asked other inmates if Shetye had ever got anyone to give her a massage or if anyone had any other complaint, before beating her up again, said Rathod, an inmate of barrack no 5 where Shetye was lodged in and was also in charge of. Witness accounts say that the assault in the barrack was  interrupted when a foreign inmate intervened saying: “Enough, enough”.  The accused, however, warned everyone against helping Shetye before leaving.

Further, the chargesheet claims that the jail authorities tried to cover up the case by alleging that Shetye had suffered a fall.  In the jail diary as well as the communication sent to JJ Hospital on the brief facts about the case, jail officials had claimed: “As per the inquest and ADR (accidental death report), the deceased had a history of giddiness resulting in a fall on 23/06/2017 in the evening, following which she was taken to Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla, where she was declared brought dead at 7.30pm.”

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