Months after Dr Payal Tadvi committed suicide after facing caste-based harassment at the hands of three resident doctors at the B Y L Nair Hospital in Mumbai, two department heads have been given a clean chit by the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) for want of “linking evidence”.
According to the commission, Payal’s family was unable to provide documentary proof of written complaints to the two faculty heads against the harassment that she faced for more than a year. Questions were raised on the family for not taking any action despite knowing how serious the situation had become.
“The two doctors, through their lawyers, have explained the circumstances and put forth their side. They conveyed that they never received any written complaint from Dr Payal Tadvi or her family,” The Indian Express quoted MSHRC chairperson M A Sayeed as saying.
Sayeed said that neither Payal’s husband nor her mother were able to produce the documents that they had submitted to the two department heads.
“Dr Payal Tadvi’s husband is a government employee and well aware that there are anti-ragging cells that can take preemptive action. However, no complaints were made to either of the two heads of the department,” Sayeed said.
After Payal’s suicide in May, Dr Yi Ching Ling and Dr S D Shirodkar were identified as accused in the case that the MSHRC took up. While Dr Shirodkar was transferred to Cooper Hospital, Dr Ling was placed under suspension.
However, Payal’s husband, Dr Salman Tadvi, accused the state of making them a scapegoat. “We never gave a written complaint because we were continuously assured that our complaints will be heard and considered. We all were worried that giving a written complaint would impact her (Dr Payal Tadvi) career and increase the wrath of the seniors who were ragging her,” he said.
Abeda, Payal’s mother, claimed that they had met both the faculty heads and alerted them about the harassment that Payal was facing, who in turn assured them that proper action would be taken. Abeda had deposed before the MSHRC and was cross-examined by the lawyers.
“We never escalated the issue because we were told that it will be handled. That’s why we didn’t go to the anti-ragging cell. The cell should have taken action before the ragging happened,” Salman said.
Payal was found hanging in her hostel room at Nair hospital on May 22 after three resident doctors – Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehare and Dr Ankita Khandelwal – allegedly harassed her and meted out casteist slurs at her for over a year. All three of them are out on bail since August.