Payal Tadvi suicide: Head of gynaecology department at Mumbai's BYL Nair Hospital suspended till further notice
Amidst the ongoing internal investigation in the case of suicide by a post-graduate student Dr Payal Tadvi on 22 May, the BYL Nair Hospital on Tuesday suspended the head of its gynaecology department Dr Yi Ching Ling until further notice.
Amidst the investigation in the case of suicide by Dr Payal Salman Tadvi, the BYL Nair Hospital on Tuesday, suspended the head of its Gynaecology department
Tadvi, found hanging on the premises of the hospital on 22 May, is believed to have committed suicide after facing months of harassment by seniors
The FIR filed after she ended her life, stated that her seniors often threatened her, saying she wouldn't be allowed into operation theatres or allowed to perform deliveries
Mumbai: Amidst the ongoing internal investigation in the case of suicide by a post-graduate student Dr Payal Salman Tadvi on 22 May, the BYL Nair Hospital on Tuesday suspended the head of its gynaecology department Dr Yi Ching Ling until further notice.
Tadvi, found hanging on the premises of the hospital on 22 May, is believed to have committed suicide after facing months of alleged harassment by seniors who levelled casteist slurs at her. Her family, including her mother, Abeda Tadvi (53), and husband, Dr Salman Tadvi, accused hospital authorities of failing to act against the three seniors before December 2018, when she finally confided in her family about the alleged harassment.
The FIR filed after the second year PG student ended her life, stated that her seniors often threatened her, saying she wouldn't be allowed into operation theatres or allowed to perform deliveries. She was also mocked for being a tribal on WhatsApp groups, as per the FIR. Abeda claimed her daughter called her up on 22 May — when she was in her hometown in north Maharashtra's Jalgaon district — and told her about the alleged harassment.
The hospital formed an internal investigation committee to look into Abeda's allegations that Payal was being harassed by three female seniors for her caste and had also been subjected to ragging.
Ling, and three other three doctors — Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehar, and Ankita Khandilwal — were suspended by Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) and will not be allowed to take part in any activity in the hospital.
In a letter to MARD on Monday, the trio also denied the charges of ragging levelled against them by the deceased's mother. 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.
A senior MARD official said, "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 further investigations. To prevent such incidents, MARD has decided to organise sensitisation programmes for second and third year undergraduate medical students."
The Mumbai Police has recorded the statements of 30 staff, including doctors and heads of departments (HoDs). An anti-ragging panel has also been formed. The police will also question family members of the deceased. The police officials are probing into casteist slur allegations levelled by the family members of the deceased.
The three seniors have been booked under sections of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, IT Act, and an anti-ragging Act, along with Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (abetment of suicide).
'She was a bright student'
On Tuesday, her family protested at the state-run hospital in Mumbai where she worked. Other protesters also joined Tadvis mother Abeda and husband Salman who demanded "strictest action" against the three seniors who allegedly drove her to end her life by "torturing her by ragging and hurling casteist abuses at her. Protesters belonging to the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and other Dalit and tribal organisations held protests outside the BYL Nair Hospital here over Tadvi's death.
Reports said the case has shaken up the medical fraternity, with doctors taking to social media demanding justice for Tadvi and strict action against the three senior doctors to set an example. “My daughter was the first woman in our community to pursue post-graduation and the first in our family to become a doctor. She was a bright student and had worked hard to reach where she was,” her mother, Abeda Tadvi, said.
While Tadvi’s parents work at the Zilla Parishad office in Jalgaon, her elder brother, who is differently-abled repairs mobile phones at home. “It was her brother’s condition that prompted her to become a doctor. When she was in Class 12, she told us she wanted to pursue medicine. Our entire family was extremely happy with her decision,” Abeda said.
Tadvi did her MBBS from the Government Medical College in Miraj. After that, she went to Sangli for her year-long internship and subsequently began preparing for her post-graduation in gynaecology. She had joined the PG course in gynaecology at the Topiwala National Medical College, which is attached to the BYL Nair Hospital on 1 May, 2018.
“When she came to Nair Hospital for her postgraduation, she was asked to temporarily share a room with Dr Hema Ahuja and Dr Bhakti Mehar. The two began harassing her soon,” Tadvi’s husband, Dr Salman Tadvi, alleged. “The two doctors would go to the toilet and wipe their feet on her mattress and litter it. When she would be away, they would taunt her that she was spending time with her husband,” he claimed.
He said the family wants the government to intervene. "We want the government to intervene. The police are not taking any action. It is possible that Payal was murdered by the three women doctors," Salman said.
According to a report in News18, Salman also complained to the department head about the harassment. “She first complained about the harassment in December. I met the head of department Dr Shirodkar. After this, Payal’s unit was changed for two months, but when she returned to the same unit after two months, the harassment continued,”
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.
In December 2018, her mother gave a written complaint about the three doctors to the head of the department, but nothing changed. “My daughter was extremely strong. But this constant abuse eventually broke her. The three accused should be punished so that it sets an example for others who traumatise and torture students like Payal,” Abeda said. “I hope the police arrest them soon.”
Social rights associations criticise institution
In a letter to the dean of the Mumbai civic body-run BYL Nair Hospital, Ramesh Bharmal, the Maharashtra State Commission for Women sought to know whether the anti-ragging Act was effectively implemented in the institution. The report, which also seeks information on "lack of communication" between the administration and students, is to be submitted within eight days, the commission said.
The hospital's anti-ragging committee is expected to submit a report on the suicide. The administration has issued notices to the head of the department and the unit head of the obstetrics and gynaecology department.
In Mumbai, on Monday, Ashok Dhawale, president of the All India Kisan Sabha, along with members of Left organisations like the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, Ashok Dhawale, All India Democratic Association, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Jati Anta Sangharsh Samiti and Students Federation of India (SFI) staged a protest outside the college and hospital.
A tribal organisation has planned a march from the hospital premises to the Agripada police station on Tuesday, to demand arrest of the three doctors. Holding the Nair hospital administration responsible for the suicide, the organisations have demanded action against the dean.
Expressing solidarity with the protesters and with Tadvi family, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad said he would visit Maharashtra if needed to "fight for justice for our younger sister".
Congress will also stage a protest on Tuesday seeking action in the case. Maharashtra Congress unit president Ashok Chavan said the doctor had repeatedly flagged the issue but her complaints were allegedly not taken note of. He demanded immediate arrest of those responsible for driving a doctor in a civic-run hospital here to commit suicide.
Mumbai Mirror quoted Lucky Jadhav of the tribal organisation Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad on Sunday, saying, "It's been five days since the suicide and the police are yet to arrest the three doctors. They are absconding. There has been no action against the head of the department and the dean of the hospital either. Tadvi's family has presented evidence of the harassment to the police, but nothing has moved forward. How long should the family wait for action against the culprits?"
Tadvi’s suicide has sparked outrage against deep-rooted casteism and discrimination against Dalits, Bahujans and Adivasis in Indian institutions. The incident is similar to that of Rohith Vemula — a Dalit PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad — who killed himself in 2016 following similar harassment from the university administration.
With inputs from agencies
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