IAS officer to investigate Byculla prison's DIG's WhatsApp texts

The state government yesterday ordered a high-level time-bound inquiry into the controversial WhatsApp messages of state prison department's Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Swathi Sathe in support of the six Byculla jail personnel accused of beating to death inmate Manjula Shetye on July 23.

The probe report has to be submitted within a month.

Sathe had sparked a controversy last month after she posted a few messages rallying support for the alleged assaulters on a WhatsApp group of jail staffers. Besides saying she was "sad and upset" over the arrest of the Byculla jail personnel, she had asked all jail officials to extend their moral support to their "sisters".

In the wake of the storm that followed the messagers, Sathe stepped down on July 7, pending an inquiry by Inspector General of Police (south prisons) Rajvardhan Sinha.

The government had also assured that it would conduct an independent inquiry against Sathe. With this in mind, the home department yesterday ordered Konkan divisional Commissioner and IAS officer Jagdish Patil to conduct a transparent inquiry into the matter. Patil has been directed to submit his report within a month. The prison department has been told to hand over to Patil all documents and records of the "objectionable" messages.

Sathe's controversy was fuelled by tainted and suspended Superintendent of Thane Central Prison Hiralal Jadhav, after he shot off a letter to the CM, seeking action against Sathe. He had alleged that Sathe had also asked jail heads to collect donations in denominatiomns of R500 and R1,000 to pay the six jail personnel's legal fees.

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