Medical student suicide: SC/ST panel records statements again, ‘many may have hid casteist remarks under pressure’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-medical-student-suicide-maharashtra-state-sc-st-commission-records-statements-again-5755273/

Medical student suicide: SC/ST panel records statements again, ‘many may have hid casteist remarks under pressure’

Tadvi had secured admission in the gynaecology department under the reserved category in TN Topiwala National Medical College, attached to Nair hospital. She allegedly faced harassment at the hands of senior resident doctors Ankita Khandelwal, Bhakti Mehare and Hema Ahuja, who have been arrested.

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Members of Bhim Army protest against the suicide of postgraduate medical student Payal Tadvi, outside Nair hospital in Mumbai, Wednesday. (PTI)

The Maharashtra State Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) Commission on Wednesday observed that the anti-ragging committee in BYL Nair Hospital had not held a single meeting for one-and-a-half years. A board outside the dean’s office names the top members of the anti-ragging committee, including its chairman Dr MV Ambiye, who had retired from the medical college a year ago.

On Tuesday, the commission had issued notices to Nair hospital, additional commissioner of police (Central Region) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner, following the suicide by 26-year-old postgraduate medical student Payal Tadvi over alleged caste discrimination and harassment.

“The medical college should hold meetings regularly, gather students every three months to sensitise them about ragging. But the hospital did not hold any such meeting since a year and a half,” said commission member Justice C L Thool, adding that the anti-ragging committee did not need a complaint to meet.

The commission members visited Nair hospital between 10.30 am and 1.30 pm, and recorded statements of the dean, gynaecology department resident doctors, professors and roommates of Tadvi. They also visited Tadvi’s hostel room, where she committed suicide on May 22.

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Thool said the commission will focus on whether Tadvi faced any atrocity as per the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. “If we find evidence, the commission can direct prosecution against the responsible officers,” he added.

The commission also directed Additional Commissioner of Police Deepak Kundal to look at the case from an angle of caste-based discrimination.

Tadvi had secured admission in the gynaecology department under the reserved category in TN Topiwala National Medical College, attached to Nair hospital.

She allegedly faced harassment at the hands of senior resident doctors Ankita Khandelwal, Bhakti Mehare and Hema Ahuja, who have been arrested.

Read | Mumbai doctor’s suicide: College confirms she was harassed over her caste, scolded hours before death

Further, the commission has recorded the statements of Tadvi’s family members. It is also recording the statements of many others associated to the deceased and the hospital, who have already given their statements to the police. “Many may have hid casteist remarks (used against Tadvi) from the police under pressure,” said Thool.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) has set up a five-member panel to review the anti-ragging report submitted by Nair hospital on Tuesday. The report has found evidence that the three accused resident doctors had harassed Payel. “The report speaks of harassment by the three seniors and negligence on part of gynaecology unit head Dr YI Ching Ling,” a committee member said.

MUHS Registrar Kalidas Chavan said the university’s anti-ragging committee will only look into the allegations of ragging in connection to Tadvi’s suicide.

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While Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan had said on Tuesday that the 21-member anti-ragging committee of Nair hospital had found evidence of casteist remarks while recording the statements of 30 people, hospital Dean Dr R N Bharmal said the college report only restricts itself to ragging allegations.

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MNS’ Aditya Shirodkar on Wednesday met Maharashtra Medical Council (MCC) chairperson to demand cancellation of licence of the three accused doctors. The MMC, meanwhile, has asked the MUHS to share the final findings of the anti-ragging report. “The MMC may suspend or terminate the licences if the allegations are true,” said Registrar Sanjay Deshmukh.