THE state-appointed committee formed to look into the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi, a second-year gynaecology student in TN Topiwala National Medical College, has submitted a report whose findings are that while Tadvi was subjected to ragging by three seniors, no evidence has been found in the course of inquiry to suggest that she was subjected to caste-based discrimination. The report lays stress on immense workload and long working hours that put pressure on Tadvi.
The 16-page report is with the medical education department and is set to be submitted to Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan in a few days. The four-member committee recorded the statements of 32 people, including doctors, hostel inmates, family members of Tadvi and parents of the three accused doctors — Dr Bhakti Mehare, Dr Ankita Khandelwal and Dr Hema Ahuja, presently in judicial custody.
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The report faults the head of the gynaecology and obstetrics department where Tadvi studied, observing that the senior doctor’s negligence led to a situation where Tadvi felt pushed to committing suicide. It has, however, not recommended any action against the department head or the three final-year students.
Tadvi, aged 26, committed suicide on May 22 by hanging herself in her hostel room in BYL Nair hospital, attached with Topiwala medical college. Her mother filed a police complaint accusing her three seniors of harassment and caste discrimination.
Following her death, Nair hospital submitted a report stating that Tadvi was subjected to ragging. A separate inquiry was constituted by the state, appointing four members, to look into the case. The report has observed that the three accused harassed Tadvi, publicly shaming her at several occasions, but the inquiry did not lead to conclusive evidence of casteist remarks. Tadvi, who belonged to the Tadvi Bhil Muslim community, got admission through Scheduled Tribe reserved quota.
The report has instead given a series of recommendations to prevent ragging, advising medical colleges to hold a meeting of students, teachers and parents once every three months to discuss issues. The report also stated that counselling mechanism needs to be strengthened for students; human resource personnel must constitute regular follow-ups and ‘quality circles’ must be created for students as redressal mechanism.
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The report also stated that mentorship needs to improve in medical colleges, and professors must help a medical student manage time in clinical subjects. When contacted, medical education secretary Sanjay Mukherjee said, “We will go through the report and action will be taken accordingly.”
Medical education department officials, however, said action against Nair hospital department head is under purview of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Meanwhile, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes chairperson Nand Kumar Sai, who visited Mumbai over the weekend to assess the progress in the case, said there have been multiple loopholes in the investigation. “The hospital dean should not have authorised Payal’s body to be removed from the room and taken to casualty department in the absence of police. The room was not immediately sealed. The way the investigation was undertaken was not as per protocol. We hope the crime branch investigates the case in detail,” said Sai, adding that the final postmortem report is awaited in the case to assess whether this is a case of suicide or murder. He added that a report by the national commission will soon be submitted to the government.