Mumbai doctor's suicide: The last call before Dr Payal Tadvi killed herself
Charge sheet reveals for first time that one accused, Dr Hema Ahuja, intimidated and berated Payal Tadvi in last conversation before her death; four eyewitnesses narrate the casteist slurs she was subjected to earlier
Hours before her death, Dr Payal Tadvi was still being yelled at, taunted and insulted by one of the three senior doctors — Dr Hema Ahuja — accused of abetting her suicide through casteist harassment. The last telephonic conversation between Dr Tadvi and Dr Ahuja was what triggered her into taking the extreme step, Dr Tadvi's parents have now alleged. However, police investigators have said they are going to have a tough time proving caste atrocity as it has not been mentioned in Dr Tadvi's suicide note.
The charge sheet filed by the Mumbai crime branch has details of Dr Tadvi's last phone conversation. Dr Ahuja, it states, called Dr Tadvi at 04:51 pm on May 22 and the conversation lasted for one minute and 46 seconds. Dr Tadvi was in the ward when Dr Ahuja called her.
Dr Hema Ahuja
Their conversation*, detailed in the charge sheet was as follows:
Hema: Go down to the ward right now. There is a patient named Saira in ward 05. Her haloperidol, pre-globin is not in yet. Her relatives aren't present either. Trace them, call them, there's also a note for ward no 01 with a stamp. Call for it. It has mentioned some renal diet protein powder, order it. All this should be done by tonight. Snehal is working over the blood reaction. Help her too. NST hasn't been done either. You just left to sleep.
Payal: No ma'am, I am in the ward ma'am.
Hema: Whatever it is, do not talk back. I am going to tell ma'am everything again tomorrow. I have had enough of you. I am being civil to you. Snehal is taking care of both wards and you are even making Anurupa work. Do you even know what has been happening all this while?
Hema: You do know? Go do Saira's work for now. Snehal will go to the blood bank for her work, spirometric and urine reactions have been asked for..... Till the time Saira's relatives aren't traced and all medicines aren't in, you won't leave the ward.
Hema: If I don't find all of this done by morning, then I will make sure what you are going to get from me.
The investigators in the case so far have statements of Dr Tadvi's mother and a few witnesses who have alleged atrocity. The suicide note recovered by Mumbai crime branch, however, has no mention of any casteist slurs.
Dr Payal Tadvi
A 36-year-old female Class IV staffer has told the police that one morning in March, while Dr Tadvi was checking a patient in the labour room, there were a couple of other patients in the room apart from the witness. "That's when Dr Ahuja and Dr Mehare said 'Ye Adivasi junglee, tu idhar kyun aayi hai, tu delivery karne layak nahi hai. Tu hamari baraabari karti hai.' [You Adivasi junglee, why have you come here? You are not capable of conducting deliveries and you are equating yourself with us] Dr Tadvi then removed her gloves and left the labour room. She was very upset. Dr Ahuja would say many things to Dr Tadvi in English and Dr Mehare and Dr Khandelwal would laugh at it. I have seen Payal crying on many occasions," she stated.
The other 39-year-old female staffer said that the three accused doctors would shout at Dr Tadvi and even threaten her. "They didn't let her work or conduct deliveries. Payal used to sit and cry in the ward. I once asked her when she told me, 'Because I am from the Scheduled Tribe, these doctors intentionally harass me.' I have heard such things as 'You are from the Scheduled Tribe. Don't touch the patient, you will infect her.' I have seen Payal crying on many occasions after being yelled at by these doctors," she told the police.
Witnesses detail abuse
A 42-year-old female Class IV staffer told the police that Dr Ahuja and Dr Mehare would abuse Dr Tadvi. "They said, 'Kamini tujhe akal nahi hai. Agar hoti toh tu aise nahi rehti.' [Idiot, you have no brains. If you did, you wouldn't have been this person] This was said to her a number of times," she said. Another staffer said Dr Ahuja used to call Payal a witch and a wh*** in front of patients. The day Dr Tadvi committed suicide, "I came to work at 10 pm when I got to know about the suicide. I saw that Dr Ahuja was crying while Dr Mehare and Dr Khandelwal looked extremely stressed. Till about 1.30 am, all three were sitting in ward no 7 along with Dr Ching Ling, and two other doctors," she narrated.
Dr Ling has also been accused, by Dr Tadvi's parents, of overlooking the insult and Dr Tadvi's complaints.
*The phone conversation between Dr Tadvi and Dr Ahuja took place in Hindi
1 min 46 sec
Duration of Dr Tadvi's last phone conversation with Dr Ahuja
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