Mumbai doctor's suicide: Did accused tamper with Dr Payal Tadvi's phone? asks CBI

Updated: Aug 16, 2019, 09:37 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Crime Branch has sought answers to certain questions related to this all-important detail; FSL yet to send a detailed report

Payal Tadvi
Payal Tadvi

The Crime Branch (CB) had earlier suspected that the doctors accused of abetting Dr Payal Tadvi's suicide had only destroyed the physical copy of her suicide note, but according to the investigators, it now seems that they had also deleted photographs of the note that were taken on her cell phone. Police sources said Payal had apparently sent those pictures either to the accused minutes before ending her life. The CB has sought answers from the FSL to certain questions related to this, for which they are yet to send a detailed report.

The primary FSL report on the suicide note mentioned in the charge sheet suggests that copies of it have been recovered from Payal's phone. As per the report, photos of three pages of the note were taken on her phone after 17:04pm on May 22, the day she committed suicide. The same day Dr Hema had called her around 16:51pm and the conversation was also recovered from her phone.

Also Read: Dr Payal Tadvi's suicide: No evidence to book HoDs, say cops; experts disagree

Cops suspect that either before or after the call she wrote the suicide note and minutes later before hanging herself, she took photos of it and sent them to the accused. On receiving the pictures, Dr Hema and Dr Bhakti might have rushed to her room around 7:06pm, according to the CCTV footage details. Police further said Dr Hema and Dr Bhakti were the first ones to reach Payal's room after which they called Dr Snehal Shinde. Her body was taken to the emergency ward at 7:30pm after which the accused duo went back to Payal's room.

A CB officer said, "We suspect that they knew about the suicide note because of which they rushed to Payal's room. Later when they went in again and destroyed the original note, they might have deleted copies of it from her cell phone as well. We are waiting for a detailed report from FSL." The spot panchnama that the Agripada police had conducted on May 22 had no mention of under what conditions Payal's phone was recovered — whether it was locked.

Also Read: Accused doctors in Payal Tadvi's case never behaved normally with their juniors, say doctors

Payal's husband Salman, who was present during the panchnama, said, "As far as I remember, the phone was locked. The officer had asked me whether I knew the password, but I did not, as Payal had purchased the phone a couple of months back and had set a four-digit numeric password for it. But the accused doctors might know the password, as it is usually shared with unit members so that the phone can be used in case of an emergency or while at the operation theatre."

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Mumbai doctor suicide: What we know so far about Dr Payal Tadvi's death
  • 1/23

    Dr. Payal Tadvi, a postgraduate student of gynaecology committed suicide on May 22, 2019, after being allegedly tortured by three of her seniors. Hours before Dr. Payal died, she told her mother Abeda that she was unable to bear the torment from her seniors. Hours after the conversation, one of Dr. Payal Tadvi's friends came to her room to call her for dinner, but she didn't respond. Her worried friends informed guards, who broke open the door and found her hanging by a dupatta from a ceiling fan in the room. She was taken to the emergency ward, where doctors declared her dead. The body was then taken to JJ Hospital

  • 2/23

    Dr Payal Tadvi's mother Abeda filed an FIR against the seniors, identified as Dr. Hema Ahuja, Dr. Bhakti Mehar, and Dr. Ankita Khandelwal. Two of the accused, Dr. Hema Ahuja and Dr. Bhakti Mehar, were Payal's roommates for a few days until she was allotted a room to stay. Abeda alleged that the harassment started then. They would throw away her stuff and use her bed sheet to clean their feet. When she complained, Abeda said that she suggested her to ignore it and focus on her work

  • 3/23

    Dr. Payal Tadvi's mother, Abeda revealed that the final straw that broke Payal was the humiliation she was subjected to on a Whatsapp group of medical students over a dinner outing on May 21. Her husband, Dr. Salman Tadvi, too, said Payal had cried bitterly on the day of her death, as the seniors had kept taunting her about the dinner. Abeda Tadvi said that a day before her death, she had gone out for dinner. When one of the accused doctors saw her selfies posted in another WhatsApp group, she started humiliating her. The doctors accused Payal of shamelessly having food and grinning and threatened to show the photo to the dean and complain about it

  • 4/23

    Dr. Payal's parents said before handing over her phone to the police, they had taken several screenshots of the chats on the group, which clearly show how their daughter was harassed by the other doctors on various occasions. The trio would constantly taunt Payal over something or the other. If she did not respond to their medical queries regarding patients, they would call her unprofessional

  • 5/23

    Mother Abeda said Dr. Payal Tadvi was threatened over dinner. Abeda said" "She was threatened that she would not be allowed into the operation theatre or perform deliveries and not be allowed to study just because she went out for dinner."

  • 6/23

    Dr. Salman Tadvi, husband of Dr. Payal Tadvi told mid-day that his wife had cried throughout her morning duty on the day of her death because the trio of seniors kept taunting her about going out for dinner the previous night. On the night of May 21, Dr. Payal was rather cheerful while speaking on the phone to Dr. Salman. She told him she was going to Mohammed Ali Road with her friends for dinner. That was the last time they spoke; they'd promised to meet the next evening

  • 7/23

    Dr. Salman, an assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology at HBT Medical college and Cooper hospital, said that on the fateful day, Payal was assigned as a second assistant for an operation duty. The three accused seniors were also present with other staff nurses and the unit head. Payal was crying throughout her duty. Eyewitnesses informed that the accused trio kept taunting and harassing her about going out for dinner the previous night and supposedly trying to evade her duties

  • 8/23

    Dr. Payal also spoke with her mother about the incident. At 4 pm on that day, Payal rang up her mother after returning to her room. She was inconsolable; she hadn't even eaten her lunch. She continued sobbing and told her mother that she was taunted in the OT by the three seniors. Her mother asked her to have lunch and advised her not to think too much about what had happened. 

  • 9/23

    The next evening, around 7.30 pm, Dr. Salman was at his home in Jacob Circle when he received a call from hospital authorities informing him that Dr Payal Tadvi was in a critical condition. Within 10 minutes, he reached the emergency ward and found the doctors giving her CPR. Even Dr. Salman gave her CPR and tried to revive her, but by then it was too late.  Dr. Payal had been telling Dr. Salman about the ragging and caste-based harassment she was facing from the accused seniors since the last seven to eight months. He kept encouraging her to be bold and move on from it. 

  • 10/23

    After Dr. Payal's body was found hanging in her hostel room on May 22, the accused trio, Dr. Hema Ahuja, Dr. Bhakti Mehere and Dr. Ankita Khandelwal went absconding. On May 25, they wrote to Central MARD blaming her death on the workload in the hospital and demanding a fair investigation into the matter. The letter stated, "You all are aware about the workload in residency and you all really believe [being] burdened with workload is ragging?...If heavy workload is given [the] name of ragging, then we will have been ragging someone while performing our basic duties, then all of us should be blamed as all the workload and pressure is always transferred from our sections and department."

  • 11/23

    In December 2018, Dr. Salman and Dr. Payal had complained about the harassment and torture, and as a corrective step, she was shifted to another unit. But in February, Dr. Payal was brought back to the unit headed by Dr. Yi Ching Ling. Once again, the trio started troubling her. A week before this incident, Dr. Salman had complained to Dr. Ching Ling about the harassment, but apparently, she ignored it. Dr. Ching Ling refused to comment on the allegations

  • 12/23

    On several occasions, Abeda Tadvi and Dr. Payal's husband, Dr. Salman Tadvi, an assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology at HBT Medical college and Cooper hospital, complained to the Nair Hospital authorities about the caste-based harassment and ragging she was facing, but nobody paid heed to it

  • 13/23

    Dr. Salman also said on the day of the incident, the accused doctors were also present when the security guard was called to open the door. 

  • 14/23

    Amidst the ongoing internal investigation pertaining to the suicide case of a post-graduate student, Dr. Payal Salman Tadvi on May 22, the BYL Nair Hospital head of the Gynaecology department, Dr. Yi Ching Ling was suspended until further notice. The hospital also created an internal investigation committee in order to look into allegations by the victim's mother, Abeda Tadvi, that Payal was being harassed by three of her female seniors on grounds of her caste and had also been subjected to ragging

  • 15/23

    Another revelation also cropped up during the investigation of Dr. Payal Tadvi's suicide case. Around 10 days before she took the extreme step, her mother Abeda had visited the Dean of Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair Hospital, Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, with another relative Asha and filed a complaint citing harassment by seniors and requesting a change in Dr. Payal's unit. However, when Dr Payal's husband Dr. Salman was informed about it, he came to the hospital and asked for the letter to be retracted.

  • 16/23

    In the complaint, Abeda stated to the Dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal that Dr Payal was tortured for a year, and she was unable to take a shower for as much as four days due to the work pressure, which had also resulted in an infection. At the end of the complaint, Abeda had urged the Dean to change Dr. Payal's unit so she could get away from the daily torture. Dr Bharmal said, "Had this letter been submitted to us, we would have surely acted upon it. Neither the family nor the unit head approached by them reached out to me."

  • 17/23

    Amidst the row over the suicide of the 22-year-old Dr Payal Tadvi, a protest was held outside the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai on May 28 by the victim's mother Abeda Tadvi along with her family members, locals and various social organisations. Dr Payal's husband Dr Salman said that the situation remained unchanged after her return from the posting and accused the administration of not doing enough in the case

  • 18/23

    According to a second-year student who resided in the same hostel floor, Dr Payal Tadvi, fearing further stigmatisation, refused to seek psychiatric help to ease the anxiety and sleeplessness she was suffering from after being allegedly harassed by her seniors. 

  • 19/23

    In July 2019, the Crime Branch claimed to have found a suicide note purportedly written by Dr Payal Tadvi. The Mumbai Crime Branch then confirmed in its charge sheet that the suicide note retrieved from Dr Payal Tadvi's cell phone was written by her. 

    Read Dr Payal Tadvi's suicide note here

  • 20/23

    The three doctors accused in Dr Payal Tadvi's suicide were indeed present in her room minutes after her suicide, allegedly "to destroy evidence," it was revealed in the charge sheet filed by the crime branch. The detailed charge sheet included an analysis of the CCTV footage of May 22 from Nair Hospital. It showed Dr Hema Ahuja and Dr Ankita Khandelwal entering Dr Tadvi's room immediately after her body was taken out by the staff. They stayed there for five minutes before they exited the place. 

  • 21/23

    The police alleged, that the two had destroyed the original copy of the suicide note which was later recovered from Dr Tadvi's mobile phone. In her suicide note, Dr Payal Tadvi held all three senior doctors — Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehare and Dr Ankita Khandelwal — responsible for her action.

  • 22/23

    One of the witnesses has also said that after Dr Payal Tadvi committed suicide, several doctors rushed to her room. While doctors and staff were trying to bring her body down from the ceiling fan, Dr Hema just stood there, instead of helping others.

  • 23/23

    The three accused — Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehare and Dr Ankita Khandelwal are currently in judicial custody

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