Mumbai: Former media entrepreneur and a key accused in the Sheena Bora murder, Indrani Mukerjea, testified to her fellow inmate’s death on Wednesday, saying that she saw the latter dragged with a saree around her neck by the jail authorities.
Manju Shette, the victim, died after she was stripped naked by four women police officials, who allegedly inserted a lathi (wooden stick) into her private parts. A murder case has been also registered in the incident by the Nagpada police.
Appearing at a Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court in Mumbai, Mukherjea also accused the jail authorities of threatening her with the "same consequences" as Shette. "Tujhe hum dekh lenge. Joh unke saath hua woh tumhare saath hoga (You will face the same consequence as her (Ms Shette)."
Meanwhile, the court permitted Mukerjea to approach police to lodge FIR against Byculla prison officials.
Mukerjea's lawyer, Gunjan Mangla, demanded in court that her statement be recorded and medical examination be done immediately. Her lawyer also told the court that she too was thrashed by jail officials and has bruises on her arms and legs.
Mangla said Indrani also said that she was verbally abused by jail officials and the superintendent and was threatened with sexual assault for protesting against the death in jail.
Indrani had on Tuesday moved a court alleging she was beaten up by the jail officials and threatened with sexual assault.
Taking note of her complaint, a CBI court, which is hearing the Sheena murder case, directed the prison authorities to produce Indrani before it on Wednesday.
Shette, 45, had died at the government-run J J Hospital on Friday night after allegedly being beaten up by a woman official of the jail on June 23.
"These allegations are part of the FIR filed against the jail staff. We are probing the matter," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone-3), Akhilesh Singh said.
The Nagpada police, investigating the case, have filed an offence of murder against the jail staff. "We are seeking information from eyewitnesses and other inmates in this connection," a police official said.
Following Manju's death, the enraged inmates rose in protest on Saturday, some of them went up to the prison's terrace while others made a bonfire of newspapers and documents inside the premises to express their anger.
Later, the Nagpada police booked nearly 200 inmates of the Byculla jail, including Indrani, on charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, assault on a public servant and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code(IPC).
Gunjan said Indrani requested her to bring the incident to the notice of the court and seek her production to lodge a complaint against the jail officials.
"She informed me that several inmates want to give their statements against the jail officials who were involved in the incident," the lawyer said.
When Judge J C Jagdale asked the lawyer if Indrani wants to file an FIR, she said "yes".
An official from the prison department had alleged that Indrani "instigated" the inmates by asking them to shun food and "use their children as shields" when prison staffers tried to stop them from agitating and gathering together.
Declining to comment on the matter, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Bhushankumar Upadhyay said, "Police have registered an offence against the jail staff and an investigation is on."
Six jail staffers were placed under suspension and police registered a case under IPC section 302 (punishment for murder) against them.
The jail, located in the heart of the city, houses around 251 inmates.