Anti-Ragging Panel Found Payal Tadvi Was Harassed: Source

The accused doctors used to defame Payal Tadvi on WhatsApp groups of students, a police official said.

Updated04 Jun 2019, 03:12 PM IST
6 min read

The anti-ragging committee of the Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai has concluded that Dr Payal Tadvi, who allegedly killed herself last month, faced harassment from the three accused seniors, a source said on Tuesday, 3 June.

Speaking to PTI on the condition of anonymity, a member of the anti-ragging committee said, "We questioned several people, her friends and fellow students, and corroborated their statements. It was evident that Payal was harassed over her caste and tribe."

"The report has been sent to higher authorities in the state government," the member said.

The Mumbai Crime Branch on Tuesday approached the Bombay High Court, seeking custody of three senior doctors of a civic hospital arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of a junior colleague.

The defendant of the three accused doctors, who were arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of junior colleague Payal Tadvi by passing casteist slurs at her at a state-run hospital in Mumbai, told a sessions court judge on Friday, 31 May, that there never was a suicide note and the mother of the victim "didn't say a word” about it in the FIR.

Refusing to extend the police custody of the three accused, a special court on Friday remanded them to judicial custody till 10 June instead.

On 22 May, at around 7:30 pm, 27-year-old Tadvi, a second-year postgraduate student of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department, was found hanging in her room that she shared with three other students, reported by The Indian Express.

The defense on Friday argued that carrying out investigation is different from keeping the accused in police custody. "You don't need (to have me in) custody to collect my statement," the defense argued. He also said that the police had "good seven days to record statement.”

No Suicide Note Found, Says Defendant

Denying that there ever was a suicide note, the defence asked, "Does anybody say that we destroyed a suicide note? Where did the suicide note come from? There was no suicide note."

He further argued that if there was a suicide note which was destroyed, "there would be camera recording it."

Mother of one of the co-accused told ANI, “The allegations on them (accused doctors) are false. They can't do anything like that. They are innocent, they will definitely get justice. An inquiry should be done so that the truth is revealed.”

Need 7 Days of Detailed Probe: Public Prosecutor

Meanwhile, the public prosecutor argued, "The job of an honest investigator is not just to accept everything that's been said to him as gospel. So far, whatever has been made available to the investigating officer, he should go through it and find out what the contradictions are."

The public prosecutor also said that the allegations made in respect of casteism is "apparent", adding that this is not the first time the mother of the victim had complained. The public prosecutor told the court that they need seven days of detailed investigation.

Accused Doctors in Judicial Custody Till 10 June

Three senior doctors have been sent to judicial custody till 10 June on Friday, 31 May.

Tadvi, who took her own life by allegedly hanging herself at the hostel of the government-run BYL Nair Hospital, had accused Dr Bhakti Mehare, Dr Hema Ahuja and DR Ankita Khandelwal of ragging for getting admission through Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation.

Additional Sessions Judge RM Sadrani on Wednesday, 29 May, remanded the three accused in police custody till 31 May after accepting the prosecution's arguments, seeking their custody for interrogation to ascertain if they misplaced or destroyed Tadvi's purported suicide note.

The case has now been transferred to Mumbai Police's crime branch unit, according to ANI.

Family Stages Protest

Tadvi's mother too, had alleged that her seniors used to constantly harass her with casteist slurs. The membership of the three doctors was cancelled by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.

Tadvi’s parents launched a protest on Tuesday, at the state-run hospital in Mumbai where she worked. Other protesters also joined Tadvi’s mother Abida and husband Salman, who demanded “strictest action” against the three seniors.

Protesters belonging to the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and other Dalit and tribal organisations also held protests outside the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai over Tadvi's death.

The National Commission for Women had also written to the director of BYL Nair Hospital requesting them for investigation and apprise the commission of action taken in the case.

Meanwhile, the head of the Gynaecology department, BYL Nair Hospital, had also been suspended until further notice, ANI reported on Tuesday.

The accused doctors also defamed Tadvi on WhatsApp groups of students, a police official said.

Accused Doctors Wrote to Association to Listen to ‘Their Side’

The accused doctors, on Monday, 27 May, wrote to the Association stating, "We want college to conduct fair investigation. But this isn't the way to do investigation through police force and media pressure without listening to our side.”

“If heavy workload is given name of ragging, then we all have been ragged or ragging someone while performing our basic duties, then all of us should be blamed as all the workload and pressure always transferred from our Seniors (Lecturer, AP, HOU & HOD) and Department.”
Letter of the accused doctors
Anti-Ragging Panel Found Payal Tadvi Was Harassed: Source

Tadvi Confided in Her Family

Tadvi’s family claimed they had approached senior hospital authorities at least thrice before the young doctor took the extreme step.

She had confided in her husband, Dr Salman Tadvi, an assistant professor of anaesthesiology in Dr RN Cooper hospital, a year ago, according to The Indian Express.

He initially advised her to ignore the remarks and focus on work. Last year, when she complained of repeated humiliation by the three seniors, he approached the gynaecology unit head who transferred Tadvi to another unit for two months.

“This year when she entered second year, she returned to the same unit and the harassment started again. They would call her “bhagodi” and embarrass her in front of other patients.”
Mehmood Rubab Tadvi, Tadvi’s brother

Tadvi repeatedly told her family members about the harassment. On three occasions, the family tried to approach hospital authorities. The family claims she was insulted, questioned about her skills, threatened she will not be allowed to perform deliveries, and ridiculed every day.

Finally a few days ago, her mother Abeda Salim travelled from Jalgaon to meet the dean, but he was not available at that time.

Official Inquiry Into Incident

Nair hospital had set up an internal committee of five members, including dean, head of departments, and representatives from Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), to look into the allegations of ragging against three seniors, reported The Indian Express.

After conducting preliminary investigation, the Agripada police registered an FIR under abetment to suicide and relevant sections under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act, anti-Ragging and Information Technology Act on Thursday. 

While her family initially refused to accept Tadvi’s body, demanding an investigation into the ragging complaint, once the FIR was registered, they took possession of the body.

When asked for an official comment, the Dean of Nair Hospital, Dr RN Bharma, had said that he never received any ragging complaint.

“We are cooperating with the police in the case.”
Dr RN Bharma, Dean of Nair Hospital

MARD president Dongre said a sensitisation workshop will be initiated for senior medical students on ragging and a counselling session will be held for first-year students.

‘Murder of Constitutional Protection to Scheduled Tribes’: Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav has said that the death of Payal was actually "a murder of the constitutional protection given to the Scheduled Tribes".

Akhilesh Yadav tweeted that the "suicide of the brilliant Dr Payal Tadvi belonging to the Scheduled Tribal community is a result of comments against her caste and the reservation system.”

"This is a case of murder. It is a murder of the protection given by the Constitution. Is this the direction the country is heading towards?"

(With inputs from ANI)

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Published: 25 May 2019, 02:24 PM IST
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