Her complaint that two eggs and five pieces of pav (bread) were missing from the morning rations for her barrack apparently triggered a horrific assault by jailors that led to the death of Manjula Shetye, 38, in Mumbai’s Byculla jail on Friday, says the first information report filed by the police on the basis of an eyewitness account.
Hindustan Times has a copy of the FIR and the statement of the witness, which detail the inhuman behaviour of the jailors, six of whom have been booked for murder. The death triggered a violent protest by other prisoners and some 200 of them, including former media bigwig Indrani Mukerjea, who is in jail for the murder of her daughter Sheena Bora, have been booked for rioting.
According to the documents, the trouble started at 9am on June 23, when Manjula, who was made warden of her barrack because of her good behaviour, found that the rations fell short by two eggs and five pieces of pav (bread).
Manjula was called to the jail officer Manisha Pokharkar’s private room. The witness told police officers investigating the murder that she heard Manjula scream in pain. Manjula came back to the barrack in a while and was visibly in pain.
The witness said that soon a group of jailors came to the barrack and assaulted Manjula once again. The witness said Manjula was stripped by women constables she identified as Bindu Naikade, Waseema Shaikh, Shital Shegaonkar, Surekha Gulve and Aarti Shingne.
The witness said Bindu and Surekha then held Manjula’s legs apart and Waseema inserted the lathi into her private parts.
Manjula was left bleeding in the barrack, and no help was offered by the jail authorities, the witness said. It was only after Manjula fell unconscious in the bathroom that she was taken to the resident doctor at the jail who immediately asked for her to be transferred to JJ Hospital. Manjula died at the hospital.
The post-mortem examination report from JJ hospital stated that Manjura had about 11 to 13 contusions all over her body. The dean of JJ hospital, TP Lahane, said the woman’s lungs were damaged.
The police started an investigation and based on the witness’ statement ,an FIR accusing the five constables and the jail officer of murder was filed at Nagpada police station.
Manjula was serving life imprisonment for murdering her sister-in-law Vidya Shetye. Her mother Godavari Shetye too had been convicted but had died. On January 4, 1996, Manjula poured kerosene over Vidya, while Godavari pushed Vidya towards a burning stove. This caused 100 per cent burns to Vidya who died on January 8, 1996. Vidya’s dying declaration had seen a sessions court convict Manjula and Godavari, which was later upheld by the Bombay High Court on October 8, 2009.
Since her conviction, Manjula was lodged at Yerwada jail, and was moved to Byculla prison about three months back. Manjula’s elder brother Sharad Shetye a Kalyan resident had told HT, “She was taken to the hospital on Friday around 7.30 pm and we were informed only at 7 am on Saturday when two constables from Manpada police station came to inform us. I want to know why it took them beyond one hour to inform me about my sister’s death.”