MUMBAI: The city crime branch probing Byculla jail inmate Manjula Shetye’s murder case, has stated that main accused, jailer Manisha Pokharkar, and her five subordinates had knowledge that their beating would result in Shetye’s death and yet they continuously assaulted her with fists and kicked her.
After hitting Shetye for nearly 14 minutes they dumped her in her cell in an almost unconscious state and didn’t even bother to check or give her medical assistance for the next couple of hours and let her die, stated the 990-page chargesheet the crime branch filed before the 37th metropolitan magistrate R S Aradhye on Tuesday.
Citing another incident of beating by the jailer and others, the investigators said one-and-a-half months before the Shetye incident, Pokharkar had similarly beaten another jail inmate black and blue. This inmate has given a detailed statement under CrPC 164 how she was similarly beaten ruthlessly by jail staffers for a petty reason. Police said the accused wanted to set an example by their ruthless beating so that no other inmate ever dared to revolt.
“This is the reason why Pokharkar ordered her five subordinates to take Shetye downstairs in the open barrack so that other inmates witness the assault and would never dare to protest,” said an officer. Joint commissioner of police (crime) Sanjay Saxena said they are sure the case will result in a conviction. “There is hard technical evidence such as the CCTV footage, where the accused are clearly seen beating up the victim, there is medical evidence such as Shetye’s post-mortem report of death due to contusions and eyewitnesses who have seen the entire incident,” said an officer of the investigating team.
The chargesheet submitted against the six jail officials includes 182 witness statements, including 97 jail inmates. Also included are statements of representatives from an NGO who were present outside the jailer’s room where Shetye was allegedly assaulted on June 23. The NGO members heard the victim’s screams from the room and so had some of the inmates whose statements were recorded.
Sources said key evidence is the CCTV footage which shows the accused dragging the victim by her hair from the ground floor to the first floor and then one of them was seen bringing her back. The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections relating to murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence, criminal intimidation and common intention.
On June 23, the six cops allegedly kicked and punched Shetye, causing 16 contusions (as later made out by the post-mortem report). The Nagpada police on June 24 registered an FIR after the report revealed that the contusions were the cause of death. After hearing the news of Shetye’s death, the jail’s inmates went berserk, resorting to arson. They assaulted jail staff and broke CCTV cameras. They broke open the lock of the terrace, went there and tried to gain the attention of the public and the media. Following this, an FIR of rioting was filed against several jail inmates, including Sheena Bora-murder accused Indrani Mukherjea.