Byculla Jail Riot: Probe chief ‘sad for cops’, rival alleges ‘biased probe’

Suspended SP writes to chief minister alleging that his bete noire Swati Sathe has been raising legal funds for the very women she is investigating in the murder of prison inmate Manjula Shetye

The tables have turned for suspended senior cop Hiralal Jadhav. A year ago, DIG (prisons) Swati Sathe was probing him for corruption. Now, Jadhav is pointing fingers at her credibility to conduct an unbiased inquest into the death of Byculla women’s prison inmate Manjula Shetye and the riots that followed. He has written to the chief minister alleging Sathe sent messages on a WhatsApp group, asking fellow cops to support jail officials held for Shetye’s alleged murder.

In the first WhatsApp message Sathe — who is conducting an administrative inquiry into Shetye’s death and the riots — sent to the group Maharashtra Karagrih, she expressed that she felt ‘sad and upset’ at the arrest of six Byculla jail officials in the alleged custodial death of convict Shetye on June 23. She referred to them as her sisters. No one replied to this message, but another member later sent a text wishing happy birthday to two officials.

Support for ‘sisters’
Following this, Sathe sent another message, asking the officials whose birthday it was and other colleagues to stand behind their jailed sisters. But judging by her next message, nobody replied to her plea for support, as she later wrote, “If so many of you have seen the message, at least say yes.” mid-day reached out to DIG Sathe, but she remained unavailable for comment.

Recently, DIG Sathe had produced herself before the panel of the state women’s commission, headed by Dr Vijaya Rahatkar, to give a detailed report on action taken by Byculla prison authorities post the June 23 and 24 incidents.

When mid-day reached out to ADG (prisons) BK Upadhyay to ask if any action would be taken in connection with Sathe’s messages, he said, “This is just an administrative inquiry; nothing to do with crimes. Still, we are looking into it.”

Jadhav’s allegations
These messages have created quite a stir on WhatsApp and now, Jadhav has stepped in to stir the pot further by writing to the Chief Minister, seeking action against Sathe terming her actions as ‘illegal’ and raising suspicion on her ‘unbiased’ probe into the Shetye’s death and the prison riots.

In the letter, Jadhav has alleged that Sathe not only urged other jail officials and staff to provide moral support to their ‘sisters’, but also asked jail authorities to collect donations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to arrange for a big lawyer to defend them. Jadhav also claimed that the reason behind June 23 and 24 incidents was not just shortage of food, but several aspects of undisciplined jail management and a lapsed system are also responsible for it.

He also asked how can one expect a fair, unbiased inquiry from DIG Sathe in a case about the flawed workings of the Byculla jail, which is run by superintendent Chandramani Indurkar, who shares a good rapport with Sathe.

Suspend superintendent
Jadhav isn’t quitting at the allegations alone, he wants the Byculla jail superintendent to be suspended. Citing the deaths of terror suspect Qatil Siddiqui in Yerwada jail and Chhota Rajan aide OP Singh’s murder in Nasik Jail, as examples of senior jail officials being immediately suspended in incidents of custodial deaths, Jadhav asked why the Byculla jail superintendent has not been suspended yet. He says a class III guard was beating a prisoner (Shetye) and that could not have been possible without the blessings of seniors.

‘It is his revenge’
However, senior jail officials said that Jadhav is doing all this to take revenge from the jail authorities, who have suspended him in a sexual harassment case. He was suspended after an inquiry was led into the allegations of a constable, who claimed he molested her. Jadhav was also being probed for corruption by Sathe a year ago, before the sexual harassment charges surfaced. “Jadhav has already been on the radar of jail officials conducting the probe in the matter of the women’s jail riots. We suspect he could have fuelled them, by immediately leaking information regarding Shetye’s death and the riots,” said a senior jail official.

 

Source: Mid-Day

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