Mumbai jail inmate death: Prison authorities say no sexual assault or injuries
Mumbai city news: A day after the death, the Nagpada police had recorded a witness’ statement and filed a report that said Shetye was grievously assaulted by prison staff for complaining about missing food rationsUpdated: Jun 30, 2017, 12:22 IST
An inquest by the Maharashtra prison authorities has contradicted the local police’s report and held that there is no sign of sexual assault or fresh injuries on Manjula Shetye, 38, the murder convict who died allegedly after an assault by jailors at Mumbai’s Byculla prison for women on Friday.
A day after the death, the Nagpada police had recorded a witness’ statement and filed a report that said Shetye was grievously assaulted by prison staff for complaining about missing food rations. The jailors had held Shetye’s legs apart and inserted a lathi in her private parts, the police report had said quoting the witness. Six jailors were booked in connection with the death that sparked a violent protest by other inmates.
Reacting to the inquest finding, women’s rights activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes said, “Initially there is an FIR against the jail officials and then they are presenting an inquest panchnama that says there is no injury mark on the body. There is something fishy going on as there are two contradictory things that are coming out.” Agnes called for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The inspector general of prisons, Rajvardhan Sinha, said, “There is no sexual assault as per inquest and interim post-mortem report. We pointed that out in front of the [Maharashtra State Women’s] commission.” The inquest report said that there were different marks on Shetye’s body but did not indicate if they were the result of a recent assault.
The state women’s commission had taken suo motu cognisance of HT’s report quoting the police FIR and witness statement and asked the jail authorities for a detailed report. The commission chairperson, Vijaya Rahatkar, said, “We have formed a special committee and we will be interrogating the case accordingly.”
Senior lawyer Majeed Memon said, “If those who are in authority are themselves involved in serious crimes like murder within their own premises, the law does not expect any independent witnesses in such circumstances. In order to arrive at the truth, the reliance will have to be on medical evidence and other circumstantial evidence. Those in authority can also fabricate and destroy evidence and therefore one has to be cautious to arrive at whole truth.”
Scores of prisoners, including former media bigwig Indrani Mukerjee, in jail accused of murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, had also been booked after they protested following Shetye’s death.
The witness in the case had said that Shetye had complained that two eggs and five pieces of pav (bread) were missing from the morning rations for their barracks. She had appeared in pain when she returned from the jailor’s office. Five jailors then turned up in the barracks and stripped and assaulted Shetye. Two of them had held her legs apart while another had inserted a lathi into her private parts, the police recorded the witnesss as saying. Shetye was left bleeding on the barrack floor. She fell unconscious some time later in the bathroom it was only then that the prison doctor was summoned and he sent her to JJ hospital, but it was too late.