Did Shette upset Byculla jail order?

Ego tussle with guards likely cause for death

Updated - July 12, 2017 08:01 am IST

Published - July 12, 2017 12:40 am IST - Mumbai

On the boil:  The death of Manjula Shette, an inmate of Byculla jail, had sparked a riot by the other prison inmates last week.

On the boil: The death of Manjula Shette, an inmate of Byculla jail, had sparked a riot by the other prison inmates last week.

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch are investigating if Manjula Shette, an inmate who was found dead in the women’s prison in Byculla last month, meddled with the prison’s informal hierarchy.

Shette was allegedly beaten to death in her barrack on June 23, and the Unit III of the Crime Branch had arrested six women guards and charged them with murder. According to Crime Branch officials, like every other jail, the women’s prison in Byculla had its own hierarchy and system of privileges established in agreement with the guards.

According to the hierarchy, the better food was served to the senior inmates, while the juniors got the leftovers. Sources said the senior inmates also got better living spaces in the barracks and the entire system was governed by the guards.

A Crime Branch officer said, “This system permeates to every little thing in the jail, including serving the thicker parts of the daal to senior inmates. Shette, in her capacity as warder, was in a position to meddle with the hierarchy. We are investigating whether she was trying to change the system in some way which angered the guards.”

The Crime Branch has now sought the footage of the CCTV cameras placed in the prison days before Shette’s death. The officer said, “We are trying to find out if there had been any arguments between Shette and the guards which might have been captured on camera. We are trying to get corroborative evidence to verify the claims made by Shette’s fellow inmates in their statements. The footage will also help us find out if there had been any violent altercations between Shette and the accused a day before her death.”

The Hindu had on June 28 reported how the guards and Shette were locked in an ego tussle as they were unhappy with her growing popularity in the prison. The guards would allegedly pick on her constantly and the alleged murderous assault on her, too, was triggered when she could not account for two eggs and five pieces of bread found on her after breakfast on June 23.

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