Dr. Payal Tadvi's case 'castes' shadow over city campus

Updated: May 28, 2019, 08:01 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Left organisations calling for social justice for Dr Payal Tadvi's death with protests organised across the state

Leftists and civil society organisations protesting outside Nair hospital on Monday
Leftists and civil society organisations protesting outside Nair hospital on Monday

Left organisations are lending decibels to the current voices protesting Dr Payal Tadvi's death. Tadvi, the post graduation student studying gynaecology at BYL Topiwala National Medical College and Nair Hospital, killed herself after alleged caste slurs and harassment allegedly tipped her over the edge. Tadvi was a Dalit-tribal.

Political potboiler

The suicide finds echo in Rohith Vemula's suicide at his Hyderabad college campus and has the Left and the Right wing slinging arrows at each other. Here, the Tadvi case may not reach the same political proportions as Vemula's, but, "we have already protested yesterday (Monda) and the Left is going to be following this case with absolute tenacity," said Ashok Dhawale national president, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS). The AIKS was joined by Jaati Ant Sangharsh Samiti and All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA). Dhawale said, "Protests are going to be held all over Maharashtra, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) student arm Students Federation of India (SFI) will pursue this."

Ashok Dhawale. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Ashok Dhawale. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Rohith Vemula

Dhawale said the caste factor is paramount. "The perpetrators will now try to couch this in other ways, by saying this is a result of a quarrel, or some other afterthoughts and excuses. Many Dalits though face great humiliation on campus. How can we forget the case of Vemula, the Dalit who died by suicide in Hyderabad?" When asked whether Payal, like Vemula, was a member of SFI, Dhawale (Vemula though left the SFI later) said, "She was not a member of a Left organisation. We are supporting her because a lot of Dalit/tribal youngsters are first generation learners. Their parents may not have had access to formal education. They bear the brunt of caste discrimination in educational institutes. Remarks like, 'you are not here on merit' are common. This is not about justice for Dr Payal Tadvi, it is about 'social' justice."

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is on the other side of the spectrum, and has the label of 'right wing'. The student organisation representatives were also at the hospital on Monday afternoon, demanding an, "intense and meticulous inquiry into the matter" with ABVP Mumbai Metropolitan Secretary Amey Mahadik emphasising that, "we must see stringent action against the culprits."

The ABVP representatives with Nair Hospital dean Dr R Bharmal
The ABVP representatives with Nair Hospital dean Dr R Bharmal

Kanhaiya Kumar

The case is now a political potboiler, with the caste card central to this. The boy from Begusarai Bihar, Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate Kanhaiya Kumar's social media post said it is important that justice is done in all cases of caste discrimination. Kanhaiya reminded people that those who drove Vemula to suicide have yet to be caught. The Left-Right polarisation has started with a right wing supporter claiming that justice was paramount. Yet, Kanhaiya Kumar's post was the Left's way to stay relevant. "Especially after Kanhaiya Kumar has lost against Bharatiya Janata Party's Giriraj Singh in what was known as the 'Leningrad of Bihar'," he finished.

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