Dr Payal Tadvi suicide case: Here is all that we know so far
Early Wednesday morning, Ankita Khandelwal, one of the three accused in the Dr Payal Tadvi case was arrested by the Agripada police. The other two doctors, Bhakti Mehere and Hema Ahuja had been arrested on Tuesday afternoon and night respectively. The three are accused of tormenting and harassing Dr Tadvi using casteist slurs which ultimately lead to the latter ending her life.
Dr Tadvi belonged to a tribal community and committed suicide by hanging herself in the hostel room provided to her by the government-run Nair hospital in Mumbai. The deceased was suffering from depression as three of her seniors were allegedly harassing and torturing her for over a year because she belonged to the scheduled tribes. The accused also used to humiliate and defame Payal on the student’s WhatsApp groups, according to police officials.
Here is what has happened so far in the case:
- 13th May, 2018: The Victim, Dr. Payal Tadvi, then a 25-year-old medico, joined the prestigious B Y L Nair Hospital.
- 13th May, 2019: Mother of Payal, Abeda, along with another relative, had gone to meet the dean and submit a detailed complaint reporting the alleged casteist abuse her daughter was facing. But they were later asked to retract it by the victim’s husband, Dr. Salman, under the fear of further torture by the three accused.
- 22nd May, 2019: Payal Tadvi, who was a resident doctor in the gynaecology and obstetrics department, was found dead in her hostel room after she had performed two surgeries and had even gotten in touch with her family, a few hours before taking her own life, to inform them about the mental trauma she was facing. The police registered a case under section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), sections of the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribes Atrocities Act, Anti-Ragging Act and Information Technology Act, 2000.
- 23rd May, 2019: The three accused were on a run and deemed untraceable by the police.
- 26th May, 2019: The mother of the victim claimed that they had been harassing her daughter for the past one year to a point where the three would go to the toilet and then wipe their feet on her bed. They would throw her belongings around, litter her room and even threaten her of not being allowed to the perform surgeries or enter the operation theatre, according to her. Dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal stated, “We have formed an anti-ragging committee to look into the matter. We have also sent a notice to three senior doctors asking them to appear before us. They are currently not in Mumbai.”
- 27th May, 2019: The absconding trio wrote to MARD (Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors) demanding a fair investigation and justice free of police or media pressures while they denied the charges of ragging and atrocity levelled against them by Abeda Tadvi.
- 28th May, 2019: On Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Bhakti Mehare was held from the premises of the sessions court where she came to file for an anticipatory bail. The three accused have filed a common anticipatory bail in Mumbai. In their plea they have stated that their interactions with the victim curtailed to work and that they were unaware of what caste she belonged to. Meanwhile, a report was submitted by the anti-ragging committee of the college functioning with the B Y L Nair Hospital stating reasons behind the suicide of the victim.The committee claims to have found evidence that the three made casteist remarks. There was also a protest held outside the Nair Hospital. Protestors included the parents of Dr Tadvi, along with members of Dalit and tribal organisations, including the political party Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. Following all this on Tuesday night, Hema Ahuja was arrested as well by the Agripada police from Andheri railway station.
- 29th May, 2019: Early morning, Ankita Khandelwal was arrested from Central Mumbai and will be produced in the court alongside the other two accused. BMC has also taken strict action and suspended their licenses along with the license of Dr Yi Ching Ling who was the professor and head of gynaecology department.A Mumbai Special Court remanded the three accused until May 31st, said a law official. According to the police most of the witnesses are reluctant to come forward as the accused were seniors to them and also due to the immense media hype that has followed this story. Payal’s lawyer, Nitin Sapute said that she has been found to have lesions on her body and the case is likely more than a suicide. The police too sought for custodial interrogation of the three accused to find out if there was a suicide note which was misplaced or taken away from the crime scene.
The defence has argued that the case was registered only on Abeda’s insistence and that the claims have no proof to support them. They also claimed that the room in which the victim committed suicide was locked from the inside hence ruling out the possibility of a murder. Adding to that they said that Payal probably had some family fallout which lead to her taking such a stern step given the fact that she and her husband resided in the same city yet stayed apart. Meanwhile, the police has seized the mobile phones of the three medicos and are trying to retrieve deleted WhatsApp messages.
- 30th May, 2019: “Considering the seriousness and importance of the case related to Dr Payal Tadvi’s death, the investigation has been transferred to the Crime Branch with immediate effect,” said the Mumbai Police PRO. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has also suspended the three doctors, who on Monday had written to the association urging for a fair probe. Meanwhile, it has been reported via sources that Dr Payal’s roommate too underwent similar harassment and was a victim of ragging.
“Dr Payal’s roommate too was being subjected to similar harassment by the three accused doctors. The WhatsApp group chats point to the fact that the two were being constantly targeted; the trio had trained their sights on these two,” said the source. He further added, “Dr Payal’s roommate was very depressed and had been confiding in her family. They also advised her to seek counselling, which she did, after Payal’s death. Now she has left the hospital to put these events behind her.”
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