Published: 29th May 2019
Payal Tadvi suicide: Medical college confirms caste harassment, police arrest all three doctors
The 23-year-old doctor's family had repeatedly requested the administration to take action against the three doctors being blamed for Payal Tadvi's death
All the three doctors accused of harassment by Dr Payal Tadvi's family have been arrested by the Agripada police. The college has also confirmed that Payal was harassed over her caste and was humiliated and scolded by the three doctors hours before she took the extreme step. These revelations are part of the report submitted by the anti-ragging committee in the college on Tuesday, four days after the suicide. The three doctors who have already applied for anticipatory bail have been charged under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
What do we know so far?
Payal hails from an Adivasi Tadvi Bhil family in Jalgaon. She studied MBBS at the Government Medical College in Miraj and worked as a medical officer at a primary health centre in Dhanora. She started her residency at TNMC & BYL Nair Ch. Hospital, Mumbai on May 12, 2018. On the day that she joined, Payal had updated it on Facebook, she had responded to almost every congratulatory message that followed, the last one being about a year ago.
Now the comments have gone from 'Congratulations' to 'Rest in Peace'.
Payal's mother, Abeda Tadvi has said that the family approached the authorities several times in the last year asking them to take action against her harassers. According to her family, three of Payal's seniors had been constantly making casteist comments and harassed her about her work. According to a report, Payal was asked to share a room with two of the doctors who have been accused. The doctors would apparently use the toilet and then wipe their feet on her mattress and litter it. They would also chide her for going to spend time with her husband often.
In screenshots from their WhatsApp groups, the three taunt Payal for not working well and threaten to never allow her inside an operation theatre or let her do any deliveries. Her husband, Salman Tadvi, had approached the department to file a complaint and while the doctors had been warned, they allegedly still ensured that Payal had a hard time. They didn't allow her to do any of the duties that a second year student is supposed to be doing. On the day of the suicide, the report states that one of the doctors threw a file at her and yelled at her in front of everybody. The report states that she ran out of the room crying.
Payal had spoken to her mother stating no action had been taken against the accused. Abeda, a cancer patient herself who sought treatment at the same hospital, was also witness to the harassment of her daughter. "But when I tried to say something, she would stop me," the mother recalled. But that did not stop Abeda from trying to visit the dean's office several times, but they refused to meet her. The mother claims that Payal even overheard the doctors say "these caste people don’t know anything” and that “she got admission through caste quota”.
License suspension, FIR filed
While the administration initially denied any knowledge of the harassment, they have now suspended the doctors and are leading an anti-ragging committee investigation. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has suspended the license of the doctors. Payal's family has filed an FIR under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act, the IT Act and abetment to suicide.
They claim that the accusations are unfair because the public hasn't heard their version of the story. "Help us get justice against these allegations which are leveled on us. We are under immense pressure, help us with your support to come out of this situation," they write in the signed letter.
The Reservation debate - once again
In the case of Rohith Vemula, the administration and the police made the case about whether or not Rohith was a Dalit. His family and friends say the case didn't proceed from that point. With Payal's suicide, the police have acted fairly quickly with the arrest of the three accused but the general public on social media have made the whole thing about reservation again. While refusing to discuss caste itself, people are out to condemn reservation. Some say they are sorry about the suicide but say things to the effect that, "The murder of this young doctor is a shameful act but this cannot defend reservation which is also wrong", others claim that "One such case of suicide cannot compare to the deaths due to merit. Which one is heavy?" It's only been a couple of days since Payal was laid to rest and yet, people are spewing the same hatred because of which she was pushed to commit suicide.