SEEKING BAIL in the alleged custodial death of inmate Manjula Shetye, three of the accused Byculla jail staffers have claimed that other inmates “cooked up” a story of assault after they came to know of the death.
On Tuesday, defence advocate Vaibhav Bagade withdrew the bail applications of three of the six accused — jailor Manisha Pokharkar and guards Sheetal Shegaonkar and Arti Shingane — while continuing to seek bail for guards Bindu Naikode, Surekha Kakad and Vasima Shaikh. Bagade submitted that the incident was “divided in two parts” over two days — June 23 and 24. On June 24, he submitted, a “riot” took place in the jail by its inmates, which only stopped after they were assured of an FIR against the six staffers.
“The entire jail was set on fire. The Nagpada police had first registered a case of rioting against the inmates. The FIR in the present case (Shetye’s murder) was registered one and a half days after the alleged incident. While the police have taken prompt action in this case, there has been no step towards investigating, let alone arrest, the other serious offence of assault on public servants by the inmates. The bias is obvious,” Bagade submitted. Shetye was allegedly assaulted by the six accused on June 23, following which she died at the JJ Hospital the same day.
Bagde further said if there had been any assault by the staffers, the “propriety” of senior jail officers would have led them to file a complaint. He alleged that the June 24 CCTV footage from two cameras inside the prison, which was provided by the police, was tampered with since it was without audio and there was a time lag.
Bagade also argued that the patches, abrasions and bruises seen on Shetye’s body during the post-mortem were due to “lividity” and not assault. He claimed that the initial register and the statement of the medical officer at Byculla jail suggested that there were no external injuries to Shetye. The inquest panchnama conducted by a district magistrate on June 24 also did not indicate any injuries. The inquest panchnama was done between 4.45 pm and 6 pm, half an hour after which the post-mortem was conducted that showed at least 14 injuries to Shetye.
Bagade also claimed that there were contradictions in the FIR, which had the statement of the complainant, Mariyam Sheikh, and the witnesses. The arguments will continue on Wednesday.