Claiming that she faced ragging by her seniors, a post-graduate medical student on Wednesday committed suicide in hostel room of Topical National Medical College, attached with BYL Nair Hospital. The second-year student of Gynaecology and Obstretics department, Payal Tadvi (27), was found hanging in her room that she shared with three other students, at 7.30 PM.
Nair hospital has also set up an internal committee of five members, including dean, head of departments, and representatives from Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), to look into the allegations of ragging against three seniors, identified in police complaint as Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Ankita Khandelwal, an Dr Bhakti Mahire. After conducting preliminary investigation, the Agripada police registered a FIR under abetment to suicide and relevant section under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of atrocities) Act, anti-Ragging and Information Technology Act on Thursday while they are yet to make an arrest.
Tadvi’s family claimed they had approached senior hospital authorities at least thrice before the young doctor took the extreme step.
On Wednesday, Tadvi returned from duty at around 2.30 pm after performing two deliveries in operation theatre. She last spoke with her mother at 4 pm. “In evening, her seniors tried to reach her and she did not answer. They went to her hostel room at 7.30 pm and found her hanging by the ceiling,” said Dr Kalyani Dongre, president of MARD. She was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation but did not respond, she was later declared dead in hospital’s emergency department.
Tadvi’s family initially refused to accept her body demanding investigation into the ragging complaint but once the FIR was registered they took the possession of the body.
She was allegedly harassed by seniors for getting admission through scheduled tribe (ST) reservation. “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,” said Mehmood Rubab Tadvi, Payal’s brother.
Tadvi had confided in her husband, Dr Salman Tadvi, an assistant professor of anaesthesiology in Dr RN Cooper hospital, a year ago. Both were married in February 2016. He initially advised her to ignore the remarks and focus on work. Last year when she complained of repeated humiliation by the three seniors, he approached the gynaecology unit head who transferred Tadvi to another unit for two months. “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,” said Mehmood. Tadvi repeatedly told her family members about the harassment. On three occasions, the family tried to approach hospital authorities. The family claims she was insulted, questioned about her skills, threatened she will not be allowed to perform deliveries, and ridiculed every day.
Finally ten days ago, her mother Abeda Salim travelled from Jalgaon to meet the dean. “The dean was not present, so she met the new unit head of gynaecology. They communicated the complaint verbally, but the unit head took no action.” The brother said. The same version was supported by MARD, that is now looking into the complaint. MARD officials said the unit head asked for more proof following which neither Tadvi’s mother nor her husband returned.
According to husband Dr Salman, the seniors also started chatting on WhatsApp groups humiliating Tadvi in gynaecology department and repeatedly pointed that she got admission through ST quota.
On Wednesday, Tadvi called her mother and informed her 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,” her brother said.
When contacted Nair hospital’s dean Dr RN Bharmal said he never received any ragging complaint. “We are cooperating with the police in the case,” he said, refusing to comment further.
MARD president Dongre said a sensitisation workshop will be started for senior medical students on ragging and a counselling session will be held for first year students . “We have set up an anti-ragging committee today to deal with such cases. We want to tell students that suicide is not the solution and we are here to offer help,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tadvi’s body remains at JJ hospital where a post mortem was performed on Thursday.