Writers and activists are demanding justice after Payal Tadvi, a resident doctor studying gynaecology at the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai, was found hanging in her hostel room on 22 May. On Monday, the three senior doctors accused of harassing her wrote to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors demanding a “fair” probe into the case by the hospital.
Tadvi’s family has accused the hospital management of not taking action as she was being harassed by the three doctors for belonging to a lower caste.
“Whenever she used to speak to me on phone, she would say, ‘These three (senior doctors) people torture her as I belongs to a tribal community, use casteist slurs on her.’ We want justice for her,” Tadvi’s mother Abeda told ANI.
On 23 May, the Agripada police registered a case against Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehar and Dr Ankita Khandilwal under relevant sections of the IPC, SC/ST Atrocities Act, Anti-Ragging Act and Information Technology Act, 2000, the Hindustan Times reported.
The FIR says Payal was taunted on WhatsApp groups, threatened that she would not be allowed into the operation theatre or perform deliveries and not be allowed to study, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Abeda said Payal had called her crying about the harassment at the hospital.
“On May 10, my daughter called me. She was crying and told me about the harassment she had been facing. I was rattled and wrote a complaint the same night. On May 13, I went to the dean to hand over the letter but we were not allowed to go in,” Abeda told HT.
Abeda told NDTV that the hospital’s management had told the family they would look into the matter, but refused to give any assurance in writing.
However, the hospital’s dean Ramesh Bharmal denied the allegations and said they had not received any complaints. “Dr Payal’s mother’s claims that she had complained to the hospital about the alleged torture being meted out to her daughter are not true. We have received no complaint till date regarding this issue,” Bharmal told the news channel.
He also said the hospital had formed an anti-ragging committee, summoned the three doctors and would file its report soon.
Activists and writers have condemned the incident and called for action, tweeting with the hashtag #JusticeForDrPayal.
The three doctors on Monday wrote to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.
In the letter, they suggest that heavy workload allotted to doctor during their residency at the hospital was being equated with ragging. The three also seemingly deny allegations of caste discrimination but do not address any of the allegations made in Abeda’s complaint directly.
“We want the college to conduct a fair investigation to give justice. But this is not the way to do investigation through police force and media pressure without listening to our side.”
This article has been updated with the letter written by the three doctors to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors.