Mumbai jail riot: DIG (Prisons) Swati Sathe is removed from jail probe team

Mumbai: There’s trouble for Deputy Inspector-General (Prisons) Swati Sathe. In an application moved by Nitin Satpute before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court, the advocate has sought stringent action against Sathe.  Satpute is the lawyer of Mariam Shaikh, an inmate of Byculla jail who claims to have witnessed the assault on Manjula Shetye by prison staff leading to her death.

The application has demanded criminal action be initiated against Sathe and Byculla jail super Chandramani Indurkar. Satpute told Free Press Journal, “We have sought action against the two as they are the main culprits in the case. As per the information we have, the two officers threatened Shetye as she was about to expose their role in the rampant sexual assault on women prisoners.”

In his application, Satpute has also highlighted the WhatsApp messages sent by Sathe seeking “help” from fellow colleagues to save the six jail staff now imprisoned in the Shetye case. The DIG in these messages has appealed to her police colleagues saying, “All our 6 colleague sisters have been arrested…At least now will the media be at peace? Feeling sad and upset.”

Swati Sathe has specifically appealed to two DIG rank officers, Rajendra Dhamne and Yogesh Desai. “Dhamne Sir and Desai Sir and all the jail officials should support them. Please help. So many people on the group have read my message. At least say yes. I am requesting everyone with folded hands,” the WhatsApp post read. Member of Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde has now written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Munde has asked for the suspension of Sathe for sending such biased messages. There’s more: Munde has accused Sathe of forcing jail inmates to pay for the legal fees of the arrested prison officials. “It’s a shame. None of the jail authorities have paid attention to the problems of the inmates of the jail. Sathe has 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 senior lawyer to defend them.”

Under pressure after the media reported on the WhatsApp appeal, Swati Sathe has volunteered to opt out of the inquiry into Manjula Shetye’s death inside Byculla jail. B.K. Upadhyay, Additional Director-General of Prisons, told Free Press Journal on Friday, “Yes, DIG Sathe has been relieved on her request.”

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