In the custodial death trial against six prison staffers for the alleged murder of Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye in 2017, an eyewitness deposed before the court on Monday, stating that she saw the accused surround Shetye and take turns to hit her with a stick.
Shetye, who was serving life imprisonment at the jail, was allegedly assaulted by six staffers, including the jailor, leading to her death on June 23, 2017.
The witness, who broke down multiple times during her nearly two-hour testimony, told the court that on the day of the incident, she had seen jailor, Manisha Pokharkhar, scream at Shetye loudly after calling her to the prison office.
She said she had seen her beat her and pull her into the office. The other accused, Bindu Naikode, called Vasima Shaikh and Shital Shengaonkar. Naikode closed the doors and windows of the office.
“I stayed outside the office for 10-15 minutes to see what is going on. I could hear the sounds of beating and loud screams of Shetye at that time. Thereafter, the door was opened and Shetye was pushed out of the door,” the witness said.
She said the six accused staffers had taken Shetye to the barrack above with a stick in the hand of Shengaonkar.
The witness followed them and saw that the six were surrounding her and beating Shetye on her back, legs and hands. The witness revealed that she could not bear to see it and came down to her barrack again.
Later in the night, there was commotion and Shetye was rushed to JJ Hospital as she had fallen unconscious. Another inmate, who had gone to the hospital for a check-up, returned in the morning and told them that Shetye had died.
The witness told the court that thereafter the inmates gathered and demanded action against the staffers who had assaulted Shetye.
“We went to the jailor’s office seeking justice for Shetye. We sat outside the office with our belongings, not willing to move till Section 302 (murder) was applied on them,” the witness said.
The witness also walked to the accused’s dock and identified each of the six accused. The examination-in-chief will continue on February 4.
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