Mumbai: How authorities averted prison break at Byculla women's jail

Jail authorities reveal how several inmates tried to overpower security at the main exit; prisoners, however, tell police they are being framed


A file photo of Byculla jail which saw a riot on Saturday after Manjula Shete's (above) death

Even as a riot-like situation at Byculla jail on Saturday put authorities in a tight spot, it has now emerged that the incident could have taken a turn for the worse had the inmates' plan to escape prison not gone awry. Prison sources reveal that several prisoners had taken advantage of the chaos and planned a jailbreak.

However, timely action by officials helped the authorities save face. The police have now invoked section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against a few inmates for the jailbreak attempt.

Also Read: Why Indrani Mukerji and others were instigated to riot after inmate's death

Byculla jail officers assault 40-year-old murder convict Manjula Govind Shete, who is later found unconscious in her barrack and rushed to JJ Hospital. However, before treatment can start, doctors there declare her dead.Byculla jail officers assault 40-year-old murder convict Manjula Govind Shete, who is later found unconscious in her barrack and rushed to JJ Hospital. However, before treatment can start, doctors there declare her dead.

On Friday, 40-year-old murder convict Manjula Govind Shete, was at the centre of a ruckus after authorities did not serve eggs and pav to some inmates.

Also Read: Indrani Mukerjea alleges she was beaten up in Byculla jail, moves court

It is alleged that the jail officer and staff called her into a separate room later and assaulted her on two occasions. In the evening, she was found unconscious in her barrack and rushed to JJ Hospital on the recommendation of the medical officer with the jail. However, even before she could receive any treatment, she was declared dead by the doctors there.

When the news of her death broke the next day, the infuriated inmates took to ransacking the premises, and vandalised property.

Over a dozen inmates climbed on top of the roof of the ground-plus-two structure, after breaking the lock of the terrace door. Shoes were hurled and slogans shouted; a few inmates also burned clothes. "The inmates also damaged CCTV cameras, lit a fire and threatened to throw the children of some inmates into it," a jail officer recalled.

After the news of Shete’s death spreads, other inmates at the jail go on a rampage inside, climbing the structure, shouting slogans, hurling shoes and some even burning clothes. A few try to make a break for it.After the news of Shete’s death spreads, other inmates at the jail go on a rampage inside, climbing the structure, shouting slogans, hurling shoes and some even burning clothes. A few try to make a break for it.

Jailbreak foiled
In the pandemonium, jail officers were attacked with stones. As most of the security staff was focused on sorting out the fracas, several inmates planned to take advantage of the opportunity and escape, a prison source revealed.

The prisoners thronged at the main exit and tried to overpower the security. "Our jail officers pushed them back and averted the jailbreak," claimed a senior officer from Byculla jail.

While the police have charged the offenders under section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, prisoners told the police that jail officers had cooked up the story in order to cover-up the incident of Shete's assault.

IG (prisons) Rajvardhan Sinha has been asked to conduct an inquiry in the case.

When mid-day contacted Additional Director General (prisons) BK Upadhyay, he refused to divulge any details. "There was no attempt of jailbreak," he said.

Even as prisoners throng the main exit and try to overpower the security guards stationed there, jail officers manage to push the inmates back and lock them up, averting the jailbreak. Illustration/uday mohiteEven as prisoners throng the main exit and try to overpower the security guards stationed there, jail officers manage to push the inmates back and lock them up, averting the jailbreak. Illustration/ Uday Mohite

Assault inquiry
The police are conducting a probe into the alleged assault on Shete. The Nagpada police have recorded the statements of a few jail inmates.

"The inmates claimed that five to six jail staffers had dealt with Shete inhumanly," said a source.

"They dragged her from her barrack with a saree tied around her neck, stripped her, and then, assaulted her. Another staffer also shoved a stick into her intimate areas, leading to bleeding," the source added.


Manjula Shete

Post-mortem report revealed multiple contusions as cause of death. Six staffers -- jailor Manish Pokharkar and guards Bindu Naikade, Waseema Shaikh, Shital Shegaonkar, Surekha Gulve and Aarti Shingne -- have been suspended.

The police have registered a murder case against them and further investigations are on.

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