With the case of Dr Payal Tadvi’s suicide gathering steam, students from medical colleges came out in protest outside the BYL Nair Hospital on Tuesday.
“This issue has become big because she was driven to suicide. For us, it is common to hear that we have got admission through the reserved category. We have to work harder than others to prove ourselves,” said a final-year MBBS student from Dr R N Cooper Hospital.
“Caste discrimination is subtle. We would get more workload, others less. We have to eventually learn to manage around this attitude,” said Lalit Padwi, a first-year medical student in Sion hospital.
On Tuesday, the family of Payal, a 26-year-old gynaecology student in TN Topiwala National Medical College, who committed suicide on May 22, staged a protest outside Nair hospital demanding the arrest of three third-year gynaecology students — Dr Ankita Khandelwal, Dr Hema Ahuja and Dr Bhakti Mehare. The three have been accused of harassing and making casteist remarks against Payal, allegedly leading her to commit suicide.
“The three broke open her hostel room door with staff’s help and found her hanging. What were they doing in her hostel building when they reside in another building? For four hours the room remained open. There might have been a suicide note that they took away,” said Dr Salman Tadvi, Payal’s husband. He added that while casteist remarks are commonly heard by medical students, he has never come across a case where harassment reached such proportions.
Several students said redressal forums exist but action taken on complaints regarding casteist remarks are not handled sensitively. A Nair hospital final-year MBBS student, Pawan Padwi, said: “Payal’s family went through proper channel, contacted the unit head, department head and dean. But no action was taken.”
“In my family, two relatives have been tortured through casteist remarks. One, who studied in BJ Medical college, was going to leave college in six months. But his father complained to the dean and action was taken,” said Shitija Pawara, a KEM final-year student. “We are not responsible for being born in this caste or getting a chance to get admission through reservation. The anger against us is misled,” she added.
Dr Arun Jaiwal, who finished his MD from Sion hospital in 2017, said it is important for medical students to question the government over reservation policy. “My roommate in the hostel was from the reserved category. Fortunately, he never faced such issues. But we need more sensitivity towards reserved category students,” he added.