Mumbai, July 7 (IANS) A top Maharashtra jail officer on Friday abruptly quit from the investigations into the brawl and death of an inmate at Byculla Jail after social media messages posted by her sympathising with the arrested jail staffers were leaked.
Pune-based Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) – Western Region, Swati Sathe, on Friday morning wrote the Additional DGP (Prisons) B.K. Upadhyaya offering to quit from the ongoing investigations into the June 24 jail violence following the death of an inmate Manjula Shetye the previous night.
Her step came after a media expose on her alleged WhatsApp messages to various colleagues, purportedly drumming support for the six women Byculla Jail staffers who have been arrested and charged for the murder of Shetye.
Her WhatsApp message, construed as ‘sympathetic’ with the accused, tellingly read: “All our 6 sister colleagues arrested today evening. PC till 7th July…Feeling sad and upset.”
The six accused jail staffers were on Friday sent to further police custody till July 14 by a Mumbai court.
They are: jailor Manisha Pokharkar, and jail guards Bindu Naikode, Waseema Shaikh, Sheetal Shegaonkar, Surekha Gudve and Aarti Shingane, who were earlier suspended by Upadhyaya and the probe was subsequently taken over by the Crime Branch-CID.
“There is lot of speculation in the media about my continued involvement in the enquiry. Under these circumstances, I do not think it would be appropriate on my part to continue to head this probe. I request you to relieve me of this responsibility at the earliest,” Sathe said in her letter to Upadhyaya.
Sathe, once considered a firebrand and high profile jail officer, had met a team of Maharashtra State Commission for Women on the issue last week and was later included on its three-member probe panel.
Shetye’s death had sparked off a riot inside the Byculla Jail in which another murder-accused inmate and former media baron, Indrani Mukerjea, had joined.
Mukerjea was beaten up and she later lodged a formal complaint with the Special CBI Court and the Nagpada Police Station on the incident.
Shetye, an inmate serving life sentence since 2005, was made a warden following good conduct, and awaited her release in the next couple of months.