All six arrested in Manjula Shetye's murder; jailor wanted to prove to deceased warden, who's boss
A file photo of Byculla Jail, which saw a riot-like situation on June 24 after the death of inmate Manjula Govind Shetye
Over a week after the death of inmate Manjula Shetye at Byculla Women's Jail, the police finally arrested jail guard Bindu Naikodi and five other jail officials for their role in the murder, yesterday. Mumbai police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner of Police Rashmi Karandikar confirmed the arrest of all the six accused.
Naikodi, a resident of Navi Mumbai, who was accused of disrobing Shetye before allegedly beating her to death, was produced before court yesterday evening and was remanded in police custody till July 7. Crime branch officials later arrested Manisha Pokharkar, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaonkar, Surekha Gulve and Aarti Shingane from Byculla under Sections 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They will be produced in court today, a crime branch official said.
Manjula Govind Shetye
Byculla Jail ka boss kaun?
According to the crime branch, accused jailer Pokharkar had assaulted Shetye to settle old scores. Pokharkar was holding a grudge against Shetye, who was trying to become the prisoners' leader in jail.
Another officer privy to the investigations said Shetye, who was also a yoga teacher in jail, was on jailer Pokharkar's radar ever since she was shifted to Byculla Women's Jail from Yerwada jail, as a prisoner's warden.
"Shetye was tasked with 'mulakat' duty in the jail and was supposed to ensure that inmates were given enough time to meet their relatives. But, inmates had complained to Pokharkar about Shetye only allowing short meetings," said the officer.
Pokharkar, who joined the prisons department as a constable, and was later promoted as jailer (Grade 2), couldn't tolerate her impudence. On June 23, when another inmate made a similar complaint pertaining to the 'mulakat' duty, she summoned Shetye to her office.
Shetye, who already had an altercation with the jail authority over not serving eggs and paav to the inmates for breakfast, faced Pokharkar's wrath. The jailer reprimanded her and asked her to behave. But, the argument did not go down well and she was beaten up in her office.
According to allegations made by prisoner Mariyam Shaikh in the FIR registered at the Nagpada police station, Naikodi later dragged Shetye into a barrack. She, along with another guard, Shegaonkar, then disrobed her and assaulted her. "The jailer wanted to send a clear message that she was the boss," another officer said.
After beating her up, the jail guards abandoned her there and left. At around 6 pm, when Shetye gained consciousness, she asked the complainant Shaikh and another inmate to take her to the washroom. But, she lost consciousness again. The jail doctor was then informed and she was rushed to JJ Hospital, where she was declared dead. CCTV footage shows jail staff dragging Shetye from one place to another, the officer said.
Who fueled the riot?
Shetye's death caused a riot-like situation inside the prison with angry prisoners vandalising jail property the next day. A senior jail official told mid-day that a jail superintendent, who was suspended on molestation charges, might have played a role in leaking the news immediately after it happened in order to take revenge on jail authorities.
The police are also investigating if Solapur MLA Ramesh Kadam, who is in the men's section of the jail, had any role to play in the riot. During the ensuing fracas, Kadam's sisters - lodged in the women's section - had climbed on to the terrace. "Kadam was seen trying to communicate with his sisters from below," said the senior jail official.
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