A STATEMENT that was part of the additional documents submitted by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the special court on Thursday has revealed that over a week before postgraduate medical student Payal Tadvi committed suicide, her family had contemplated approaching the police to complain against the alleged caste-based harassment she faced at the hands of three senior resident doctors at BYL Nair Hospital.
Tadvi had committed suicide on May 22 at the college hostel, following which, the three seniors —Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal—were booked on charges of harassment and abetment to suicide. With Tadvi belonging to the Tadvi Bhil community, which is a Scheduled Tribe, the three were also booked under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Arrested in May, the accused were granted bail by the Bombay High Court in August.
According to the statement of Tadvi’s cousin, who is a sub-inspector, the mother of the deceased, Abeda, had told him on May 11 that Tadvi was being increasingly harassed by her seniors.
“I was told that Payal’s seniors had harassed her by saying that she had made it to the college as she belonged to the reserved category and that she was getting free education. Her mother told me that they had drafted a complaint and wanted to submit it
to the BYL Nair Hospital and Agripada police and had also sent me a copy of it on WhatsApp,” the witness said. He added that on May 13, he came to know that the complaint had been submitted to Nair hospital. It was, however, withdrawn as Tadvi’s husband believed that she would face further harassment if such a complaint was made, he added.
The police presented another statement by a doctor, who had spoken about Tadvi complaining to her unit head in November 2018 against the accused. “Dr Ching Ling had told the three seniors that they should not yell at Payal in front of patients or their relatives and that if they had to tell her (anything) about any work, they should call her aside and explain,” the witness said.
Further, the documents included contents of Tadvi’s phone. A day before her death, Tadvi had searched for Agripada police station online and on the day of the incident, she had looked for “types of knots in surgery” and “scouts”.