All the three doctors, accused of harassing second-year medical student Dr Payal Tadvi at the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai, have been arrested for abetting her of suicide. The third doctor, Ankita Khandelwal, was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday. The other two were arrested by the Agripada police on Tuesday. The arrest of Dr Bhakti Mehare on Tuesday afternoon was followed by the arrest of Dr Hema Ahuja later on the same night. The three accused doctors are likely to be to be produced in court later on Wednesday.
Payal, the 23-year-old doctor, committed suicide at the state-run hospital on May 22. She was a resident doctor who was pursuing gynaecology and was found dead in her room at the BYL Nair Hospital. Payal’s mother had alleged that her seniors used to persistently harass her with casteist remarks and even embarrassed her on a WhatsApp group. The mother, who is suffering cancer, said they had complained to the management but no action was taken against the accused.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the junior doctor who hailed from a tribal family in Jalgaon was frequently harassed by three female senior doctors over her caste.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, the deceased's husband, Dr Salman Tadvi alleged that his wife may have been 'killed'. Demanding justice for his wife, Dr Salman, a doctor at the RN Cooper Hospital alleged that the hospital did not entertain the family's repeated pleas to change Payal's unit and failed to act even after her mother wrote a letter to the dean on May 13 of this year. Agripada Police later registered a complaint in this regard under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), SC/ST Atrocities Act, Anti-Ragging Act and Information Technology Act, 2000.
Protesters belonging to the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and other Scheduled Caste and tribal organisations held protests outside the BYL Nair Hospital here over Tadvi's death.
Abeda said will the government take responsibility for safety of students like her daughter, who are pursuing higher education.
She said Payal would have been the first woman MD doctor from their community.
"Payal used to tell me about the torture which she was facing by her seniors on petty issues. They threw files on her face in front of patients," she said.
"Payal used to tell me not to give a written complaint against her seniors despite being harassed by them. She would say that doing so would advesrely impact their career," Abeda said.
Salman, a doctor, said it is possible that Payal was murdered by the three women doctors.
Expressing solidarity with the protesters and with Tadvis family, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said he would visit Maharashtra if needed to "fight for justice for our younger sister.
The Maharashtra State Commission for Women has also taken cognisance of the matter and issued a notice to the hospital authorities demanding a reply within eight days on the action taken to implement the anti-ragging law.
The three women doctors at the hospital accused of driving Tadvi to suicide Monday sought a "fair probe" in the case.
In a letter to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), they said they want the college to conduct a fair investigation in the matter and "give justice" to them.
"This is not the way to do an investigation through police force and media pressure, without hearing our side," the three doctors said in the letter.
MARD has suspended the three doctors. We have credible inputs that the three doctors made casteist remarks against Dr Payal Tadvi, who allegedly committed suicide. We will cooperate with the police for the further investigation, a senior MARD official said.
Tadvi committed suicide on May 22. Her family has alleged that the doctors taunted her for belonging to a Scheduled Tribe.
The three doctors have been booked under the Atrocities Act, the Anti-Ragging Act and the IT Act and Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.
(With agency inputs)