The Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission on Thursday issued a notice to the state prisons department and additional director general of police after reports emerged about the brutal killing of one of its inmates by jail authorities. The Commission, which took sou motu cognisance of the matter, has given the department time till July 17 to submit a report on the incident.
The report of Manjula Shetye’s death emerged after an eyewitness had filed an FIR at Nagpada police station. According to the complainant, six prison officials had brutally beaten up and sexually assaulted the 38-year-old convict for complaining about two eggs and five slices of bread that were missing from the morning ration on June 23. “The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the same and decided to inquire into the matter,” read the notice issued by commission chairperson SR Bannurmath, according to The Indian Express.
The five constables and the jailer have been booked for allegedly sexually assaulting and killing Shetye. They were later suspended, reported The Indian Express. Shetye’s death had triggered a massive protest and 200-plus women inmates were booked for inciting a prison riot.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission has decided to set up a three-member special investigation team to inquire into the incident. MSWC Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar told IANS that the team will have a retired high court judge, a retired IPS officer and a representative of a women’s NGO. “[They] will visit the jail and speak to the inmates who were beaten during the rioting. It will record the statements of all concerned, including Indrani Mukerjea,” Rahatkar told the news agency.
The eyewitness had said in the FIR that Shetye was first called to Jail Officer Manisha Pokharkar’s private room. She was allegedly assaulted there and sent back to the barrack. Later, women constables Bindu Naikade, Waseema Shaikh, Shital Shegaonkar, Surekha Gulve and Aarti Shingne made her strip and raped her with a stick, or lathi.
Initially no official came to Shetye’s help, the FIR said. Shetye was taken to the resident doctor after she fell unconscious in the bathroom. She later died at JJ Hospital. The post-mortem report said Shetye had about 11 to 13 bruises while hospital dean TP Lahane said her lungs were damaged.