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Payal Tadvi suicide: What is known about the Mumbai doctor’s case so far

Payal's family alleges she was harassed by her seniors for getting admission at the hospital through ST reservation. They claim she had complained to senior hospital authorities at least thrice, but there was no action taken.

Protests in front of BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai on Monday. (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty)

A young doctor in Mumbai, who claimed she was ragged by her seniors, committed suicide last week. Payal Tadvi, 26, a second-year student of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department of BYL Nair Hospital, was found hanging in her hostel room on May 22. Her family alleged she took the extreme step as she was harassed for getting admission through Scheduled Tribe (ST) reservation, and also questioned about her skills.

The hospital has suspended four doctors, including head of the gynaecology unit Dr YI Ching Ling and three PG resident doctors, Hema Ahuja, Ankita Khandelwal and Bhakti Mehare, who are absconding. On preliminary investigation, the Agripada police have booked the three under The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act; Anti-Ragging and Information Technology Act; and sections for abetment to suicide.

What happened?

Last Wednesday, Payal was found hanging in her hostel room of Topical National Medical College, which is attached with BYL Nair Hospital. She had returned from duty a little after 2 pm, and spoken to her mother at 4 pm. When she could not be contacted thereafter, her seniors had gone to look for her when they found her hanging around 7.30 pm. She was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation but did not respond, and was later declared dead in the hospital’s emergency department.

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According to Payal’s brother Mehmood Rubab Tadvi, Payal had told her mother that day that she could “no longer bear the torture”. “We told her that we are coming to Mumbai the next day. But it was too late,” he added.

The family hails from Jalgaon district of north Maharashtra.

Dr Payal Tadvi worked at BYL Nair Hospital.

Allegations of harassment

Payal’s family alleges she was harassed by her seniors for getting admission at the hospital through ST reservation. They claim she had complained to senior hospital authorities at least thrice, but there was no action taken.

About a year ago, Payal had told her husband Dr Salman Tadvi, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Dr RN Cooper hospital, of the repeated harassment. He had initially told her to ignore the remarks and focus on work, but later approached her unit head who transferred Payal for two months.

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“This year, when she entered second year, she returned to the same unit and the harassment started again. They would call her ‘bhagodi’ and embarrass her in front of other patients,” her brother Mehmood said.

“Ten days ago my mother came all the way from Jalgaon to personally submit a written complaint to the dean. But he was not available. So she met the new unit head of gynaecology. They communicated the complaint verbally, but the unit head took no action,” he added.

The letter, written by her mother Abeda Salim on May 13, had stated: “Please change my daughter’s unit… because of harassment her mental state of mind is not good… because we belong to Scheduled Tribe, my daughter is being ridiculed, has to hear casteist remarks and bear humiliation.”

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Abeda, who suffers from cancer, said she had witnessed the ragging during a visit to the hospital’s radiation department for treatment. “My daughter worked so hard, she could sometimes not visit me. Once, I saw her seniors ridiculing her in the gynaecology ward. I wanted to answer them, but she stopped me saying this will only make matters worse,” she wrote in the letter.

Payal Tadvi suicide: What is known about the Mumbai doctor's case so far During a protest outside the hospital on Tuesday. (Express Photo: Nirmal Harindran)

According to Payal’s husband, meanwhile, the accused also ragged her on WhatsApp groups.

Doctors respond to allegations

In a letter to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) and the hospital, the three accused resident doctors have denied ragging Payal. “This is not the way to do an investigation through police force and media pressure, without hearing our side,” the three doctors stated. “If heavy workload is given the name of ragging, then we all have been ragged.”

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.”

First published on: 28-05-2019 at 01:48:52 pm
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