The handwriting in the purported suicide note found in Dr Payal Tadvi’s cellphone has matched her writing samples provided by her family, confirming that the note was indeed written by her. This formed the crux of the 1,203-page chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police against three accused resident doctors before a special court on Tuesday.
Tadvi, a junior resident doctor, was found hanging by the ceiling fan of her hostel room at BYL Nair General Hospital on May 22. Later, three of her seniors were arrested on charges of the abetment of suicide and caste-based discrimination.
The chargesheet stated that there is strong evidence against the accused doctors — Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal — in the form of statements of nearly 180 witnesses, including those of Tadvi’s family members and colleagues. The trio have been charged under abetment of suicide, destruction of evidence and common intent under IPC, Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act and Information Technology Act.
A senior officer said, “We had received a report from an analyst confirming that the handwriting in the photograph of the suicide note retrieved from Tadvi’s phone matched with her writing samples. The three-page suicide note, written in English on medical documents, is strong evidence documented by Payal herself against the three doctors. With the verification, we believe it is irrefutable.”
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Tadvi had taken photographs of the suicide note on her phone at 5.04 pm, after she received a call from Ahuja at 4.51 pm. The call, which lasted 121 seconds, was the last call Tadvi received before committing suicide.
Apart from the handwriting analysis report, the chargesheet (submitted in three volumes) included screenshots of WhatsApp conversations from the “reminders” group — which had both the accused and Tadvi along with other resident doctors — in which the accused are seen humiliating the deceased.
Police are relying on statements of three witnesses, including hospital staff members, who have said that Tadvi was harassed because of her caste. In order to prove that she was harassed, the police, in its chargesheet, have included the statements of Tadvi’s colleagues, other staff members and seniors of the hospital.
One of the crucial statements is that of Tadvi’s friend Snehal, who has told the police that the deceased was harassed by the accused as she got admission under the Scheduled Tribes category. Tadvi was a member of the Bhil Tadvi community.
Other evidence includes witnesses to the incident on the day of the suicide, when Tadvi was allegedly shouted at in the presence of other staff members and patients. According to the police, what further shows that the accused were aware about having done something wrong was the fact that they went to Tadvi’s room soon after her body was removed from there. “We have attached the CCTV footage of the eighth floor corridor outside Payal’s room, where the three accused are allegedly seen entering her room after she was shifted to the trauma room,” an officer said.
The bail application of the three accused was rejected on June 24. They have appealed against the trial court’s order, which will come up for hearing in the Bombay High Court later this week.
After initially registering an accidental death report following the suicide, the Agripada police had lodged an FIR the next day against the three accused based on the complaint filed by Tadvi’s mother Abeda, a Jalgaon resident. Abeda had told the police that Tadvi was harassed, humiliated by the three accused constantly and eventually committed suicide. The three were arrested on May 28-29 after they remained absconding since the registration of the FIR.
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