Mumbai doctor's suicide: Nair Hospital trying to whitewash casteist harassment case
As college says its role ends with checking if there is evidence to prove merely ragging in the Dr Payal Tadvi case, SC-ST Commission accuses college of trying to cover up caste atrocity charge
The BYL Nair Hospital and TN Medical College seems to be trying to brush the alleged caste-based harassment meted out to Dr Payal Tadvi under the carpet. A report by the college’s anti-ragging committee finds the accused trio of seniors guilty of ‘ill-treatment and harassment that amounts to ragging’ but makes no mention of the casteist slur they have been accused of using against Dr Tadvi.
The report was submitted on May 28, without any mention of Dr Tadvi being harassed over her caste by the three accused, Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehare and Dr Ankita Khandelwal, despite evidence pointing to it. Under point 2 in the seven-page report, one of Dr Tadvi’s batchmates, Dr Snehal Shinde, even requested the review of the WhatsApp group of resident doctors that would prove the harassment. Dr Tadvi’s mother Abida Salim also referred to the same group chat, which mid-day had reported about on May 27 in, ‘Behind PG medico’s suicide, constant barbs in WA groups’.
No ‘access’ to WA group?
The report states, “Upon interviewing Dr Shinde, it was brought to the notice of the committee that there was a WhatsApp group created only for residents. She requested the committee to take that chat under their purview as she believed its contents will be self-explanatory to show the harassment faced by Dr Tadvi.”
But, the committee “couldn’t access the WhatsApp conversation” because the matter is under investigation following the FIR filed by Dr Tadvi’s mother Abida at the Agripada police station. A senior police officer from Agripada said they were unable to show the chat to the committee because Dr Tadvi’s phone has been sent for forensic analysis. However, the committee could have seen the chat on Dr Shinde’s phone because she was a part of the same group, Abida pointed out. “Considering it was an in-house committee, they could have used Dr Shinde’s phone to check the chats, which could have proven how Payal was harassed over her caste. But they let that go claiming it as a police investigation.”
The college feels otherwise. Commenting on the findings, Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of Nair hospital, said the focus of the committee was to find out whether or not Dr Payal was ragged. “The anti-ragging committee mainly looks into complaints to check if the student has been ragged. Complaints of caste-based harassment are sent to the police for investigation,” he said.
Atul Khobragade president of the Nagpur-based Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar National Student Federation, said a ragging committee has to find out the reason behind the student’s harassment too. “The claim of ragging becomes weak until you find a reason for it, especially if it has been done for a year. In colleges, students face ragging in the initial months, but in case of Dr Tadvi, it was caste-based harassment and ragging. So, the college can’t just wash their hands of it and put everything on the police,” he said.
The Maharashtra Scheduled Caste And Scheduled Tribes Commission has disapproved of the claim as well. C L Thul, former chairman and present member of the commission stated, “First, they couldn’t save Dr Tadvi because of their negligence and now, they are just passing the buck to the police. Since atrocity complaints are an extremely serious matter, they didn’t want to step into it, which is why they didn’t investigate the matter despite having evidence. The college needs to take more responsibility.”
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