Doubts remain about how INX Media co-founder Indrani Mukerjea, accused of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora in April 2012, managed to overdose on the anti-depressant or anti-epilepsy pills within her barrack at the Byculla prison.
Mukerjea is undergoing treatment at JJ Hospital, after being rushed to the health facility on Friday following a drug overdose. Contradictory lab reports added to the drama, while her condition remained stable but critical.
Who was supposed to administer the medicine daily and did Mukerjea consume the pills in the presence of jail officials — these are some of the questions authorities are investigating. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an IPS officer of the rank of inspector general to investigate the incident.
Jail authorities said Mukerjea has been on anti-epileptic pills since September 12, after she started suffering bouts of seizure. Prison officials, who were tasked to monitor her medication, have been asked to explain how Mukerjea got hold of tablets more than her dosage.
Mukerjea had complained of uneasiness and dizziness twice between September 12 and September 26.
On Friday, at 5am, Mukerjea collapsed while reading the Bhagavad Gita. “She was examnied by a doctor at 6am. Two doctors from JJ hospital also examined her. When her condition worsened, she was shifted to JJ hospital at 1:30pm,” said Bipin Kumar Singh, inspector general, Maharashtra prisons, south division.
But it is still not clear why the doctors waited for more than seven hours before admitting her to the hospital. At 11:30am, the jail superintendent got a call from Mukerjea’s lawyer informing them of Durga Rani Bora’s (Mukerjea’s mother) funeral in Guwahati. She died on October 1.
What happened on Friday
5am: Mukerjea woke up and took a bath. She then began to read the Bhagavad Gita, but collapsed suddenly. The inmates in her barrack (number 6) informed the jail staff.
5:10am: Dr Kelnikar (who was in the jail) checked on her.
6am: Dr Khan joined Kelnikar in examining Mukerjea.
10am: Her health condition worsens after which senior doctors from JJ hospital were called.
11:30am: Unaware of Mukerjea’s ill health, her lawyer Gunjan Mangla called up the Byculla jail superintendent to inform her client about mother Durga Rani Bora’s funeral in Guwahati.
1:30pm: Mukerjea’s condition deteriorates further, after which doctors and jail authorities admitted her to JJ hospital.
2pm: JJ hospital informed the police and an emergency police report (EPR) is registered.
2.30pm: Nagpada Police was informed about the incident and an entry is made in the police station’s diary.
How are prisoners administered medicines?
According to the jail manual, after a doctor examines a prisoner, he/she prescribes the appropriate medicine. The jail pharmacist then gives the medicines to prisoner, as per the prescription.
Prisoners suffering from general ailments are handed over the medicine — enough to last 4-5 days — by the pharmacist with instructions on how they should be consumed; while those with psychiatric problems are given medicine twice a day.
During the day, the prisoner is called to the jailer’s office and given pills in presence of jail officers. At night, the prisoners are locked up in their barracks, therefore, the nursing orderly gives pills to the barrack in-charge and the pills have to be consumed in his presence.
Who is to blame?
The jail authorities’ inquiry is focused on finding out if any negligence took place while administering medicine to Indrani, especially if Indrani Mukerjea stored the pills instead of consuming them.
If inquiry finds that Mukerjea had stored some pills, then she must had done it before September 26, the day the doctors stopped giving her medicine.
Special inspector general of police (south prisons) Bipin Kumar Singh, who is also the state prisons chief, said during a preliminary inquiry, the statements of everyone, including doctors, nursing orderly, jail staff, barrack in-charge, involved in providing the medicines to Mukerjea were being recorded.
Singh also said the statements of Mukerjea’s fellow inmates were being recorded.