Had the authorities acted swiftly and shown sensitivity, my daughter would have been alive today,” said Abeda Tadvi, mother of Dr Payal Tadvi, a postgraduate student of gynaecology who committed suicide on May 22 after being allegedly tortured by three of her seniors. Hours before Dr Payal died, she told Abeda she was unable to bear the torment from the trio, who have been absconding since they learned about her suicide. A case has been registered against them, which includes sections from the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Dr Payal and the absconding seniors were post graduate students of the Topiwala National Medical college, which is attached to the BYL Nair hospital. She had joined the college on May 1, 2018 for her PG course. However, soon after, she was allegedly subjected to torture and ragging by the seniors.
Her father Salim told mid-day, “The first six months were fine; some words had been exchanged between seniors and juniors, but Payal never thought it would lead to torture. As soon as it happened in December 2018, she told us about it. We discussed this with her husband, Dr. Salman [Tadvi], who said things like these keep happening and she should just ignore them.”
Taunted about caste
But her suffering did not end. Dr Payal was taunted about her caste and her admission to the course through the reserved quota. Her parents decided to act on it. Abeda said, “We had started reporting this to the officials concerned. We had even met a lecturer and the hostel warden, who had called these three seniors and asked them not to behave this way with Payal.
She was advised to focus on her studies instead of responding to such acts.” No other action was taken against the trio. Abeda added, “Had they acted swiftly and shown sensitivity, my daughter would have been alive today. I had called her in the afternoon of May 22, when she told me her seniors were still torturing her. I told her that her father and I were coming to Mumbai to file a complaint at the hospital and the police station, but she couldn’t bear it any longer.”
Hours after the conversation, one of Dr Payal’s friends came to her room to call her for dinner, but she didn’t respond. Her worried friends informed guards, who broke open the door, and found her hanging by a dupatta from a ceiling fan in the room. She was taken to the emergency ward, where doctors declared her dead. The body was then taken to the JJ Hospital. Abeda filed an FIR against the seniors, identified as Dr. Hema Ahuja, Dr. Bhakti Mehar and Dr. Ankita Khandelwal.
Dr Payal’s last rites were performed in Jalgaon on Friday. The parents are demanding strict action against the accused trio. “We come from the tribal category; my daughter had worked tremendously hard to get a seat in the MBBS and PG courses. She was very hardworking and sensitive and it was her dream to work as a gynaecologist in rural areas. But all of those dreams have gone in vain,” said Salim, adding, “I want cops to punish these girls as well as officials who didn’t pay heed to her complaints and tried to sweep everything under the carpet.”
Speaking about the FIR, Deepak Kundal, ACP, Agripada division, said, “We have registered a case under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, and IT Act. We are taking statements of all the related people and will take statements of department officials, if needed.” Another police officer said, “The accused are untraceable. We are trying to establish their whereabouts. We have asked the hospital administration to cooperate with us.”