Three doctors accused of abetting the suicide of Dr Payal Tadvi in Mumbai have been remanded to police custody till May 31. Tadvi, a second-year student of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department of BYL Nair Hospital, allegedly ended her life after facing “extreme harassment” and casteist remarks.
The three seniors, Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Ankita Khandelwal and Dr Bhakti Mehare, were produced in a court today. All of them have been named in the FIR filed under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, IPC sections for abetment to suicide and Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999.
While Mehare was arrested late Tuesday afternoon, the other two accused – Ahuja and Khandelwal – were absconding and were caught in the early hours on Wednesday. Denying charges of harassment, the doctors in a letter to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) wrote, “If heavy workload is given the name of ragging, then we all have been ragged.”
According to the preliminary investigation, hours before her death, Tadvi was scolded in the operation theatre in front of other staff and patients and was seen crying as she left. Payal’s husband Salman and mother Abida Salim alleged that the seniors harassed her for getting admission through Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation, and also questioned her skills. They claim she had complained to senior hospital authorities at least thrice, but no action was taken.
The family claims that for two days after a verbal complaint was made on May 13 by Payal’s husband Dr Salman Tadvi to unit head Dr Y I Ching Ling, the three seniors did not talk to her. On the third day, one of them allegedly threw a file at her and rebuked her for “shoddy” work. The next day, they allegedly threatened that they will not let her complete the year. “She cried every day. She said the complaint to the unit head yielded no response from the hospital. Instead, the torture increased every day,” said Abeda.
The family also claimed that Payal overheard a conversation among the three seniors in which they referred to her and allegedly said that “these caste people don’t know anything” and that “she got admission through caste quota”.
Hospital dean Dr R N Bharmal, meanwhile, has claimed that he was “never informed about this case”. He added, “We have an anti-ragging cell but sadly she (Tadvi) did not approach it.”