A DELEGATION headed by the chief of the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission (MSWC) visited Byculla prison on Thursday to inquire into the murder of a prisoner, allegedly by the jail staff on June 23, and the violence that ensued in the jail.
The MSWC will set up a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the two incidents.
Earlier in the day, Deputy IG (Prisons), Swati Sathe, submitted a report to the MSWC detailing the action taken by the prisons department against the staff and the case of rioting registered against the inmates. The report also attached the findings of Manjula Shetye’s post-morterm report and the inquest panchanama by the police. The inquest ruled out sexual assault on Shetye.
The 31-year old Bhandup resident was serving a life term in Yerwada jail since 2005 for the murder of her sister-in-law, and was shifted to Byculla prison recently.
On June 23, she was allegedly assaulted by the jail staff after a brawl over distribution of eggs and bread in the jail. The next day, the inmates protested and allegedly ran riot, burning files, breaking the CCTV camera and using kitchenware to attack the staff.
While six jail staff have been booked for the murder of Shetye, another FIR has been registered against the 291 inmates on the charges of rioting and criminal conspiracy.
“The SIT will comprise a retired high court judge, a retired IPS officer and a representative of a women’s NGO. It will probe the two incidents and submit a report to us which will be then shared with the state government,” MSWC chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar told The Indian Express.
Rahatkar also said that her delegation comprising three other members spoke to both the inmates and the jail staff to get an understanding of what transpired on June 23 and 24.
“While a few inmates told us that they saw Shetye being brutally abused by the staff including the jailor, a few said that they did not see anything as they are housed in barracks located far from the one in which Shetye was lodged,” Rahatkar added. “The SIT will look into all this and give us a true account of what really happened,” she added.
Among those Rahatkar spoke to included undertrial Indrani Mukerjea, arrested for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora. “Mukerjea told me that she was assaulted by the staff. She also narrated on what she saw on that day,” said Rahatkar.
The Mumbai Crime Branch, which has now taken over the investigation, has received the case papers from the local police. The Crime branch will probe into the role of the six booked for Shetye’s murder. Based on evidence collected, tshe premier agency of the Mumbai police will decide on the arrest of the accused.