Mumbai doctor's suicide: Why can't cops clearly explain sequence, asks Payal Tadvi's husband

Updated: Jun 22, 2019, 07:45 IST | Anurag Kamble

A month after Dr Payal Tadvi committed suicide, with her alleged harassers behind bars, husband Salman opens up about their budding married life, and raises critical questions about where the probe is headed

Mumbai doctor's suicide: Why can't cops clearly explain sequence, asks Payal Tadvi's husband
Dr Payal with her husband Dr Salman Tadvi;

Whenever his phone rings in the evenings, Dr Salman Tadvi still thinks it's his wife Dr Payal Tadvi's call. "Every day, my phone rang around 8 pm asking me where I was, etc. Her voice is still fresh in my ears. I can't believe it has already been a month since she left me," Dr Salman says of life without his better half who committed suicide last month.

The grieving husband has also questioned the delay in investigating Dr Payal's suicide and the events that led to it. "Due to the uproar around her death, all the accused were arrested and put behind bars but even after 30 days, the cops haven't been able to make a firm claim about the sequence of events on May 22," he said. Dr Payal was pursuing her MD (Gynecology) at the Nair hospital. "She would not have enough time to spend with me. We had odd duty hours and getting to see each other was a rarity. She had opted to stay in the hostel room so she could save time travelling to our rented apartment," he explains.

Also Read: Mumbai doctor's suicide: Nair Hospital trying to whitewash casteist harassment case

He would visit her at the hospital for dinner on some days or she would visit their home. "So every evening, around 8 pm she would call me to ask if I was coming over for dinner," recalled Dr Salman, adding that even those few minutes of each other's company were good enough for them. During the last 15 days of her life, her workload had increased and we would meet seldom. "But whenever we did, she never told me that the torture she was facing had become worse. I too did not notice it; I wish I could understand what she left unsaid," Dr Salman choked. "We used to dream of our own hospital in Jalgaon where she would be a gynaecologist and I would be an anaesthetist. It was a perfect match; we would count months and days of her final year. It is all gone now, all our dreams have vanished. I don't know what I will do," he said.

Why the delay?
Dr Salman also spoke of the confusion surrounding the incident. Some people, he said, have claimed that Dr Payal was scolded at in the operation theatre that morning and she left for the hostel crying, called her mother in the afternoon narrating the harassment after which one of the accused called her to have a brief conversation. "Was that the trigger for her suicide? How had all three accused reached her room before anyone knew about her suicide? Mumbai Police have all the resources at their disposal. How much time do they need to align things?" he questioned.

Also Read: Mumbai doctor's suicide: Dr Payal Tadvi had no friends in her own department, say batchmates

Dr Salman, who was initially reluctant to resume his work at Cooper Hospital after his wife's death, has now been advised by his seniors to join work. He has been attending college and OPDs for a week now. "It's not easy to keep my mind off her. I still feel she is at Nair hospital and I am going to meet her post 8 pm," the grieving husband said. The police confirmed to having some missing links. "We are corroborating the facts and claims made by the accused and other eye witnesses. We didn't have the custody of the accused completely, so it's a challenge to put everything in place. But we will soon come out with a watertight case against the accused," said a crime branch official.

The accused, Hema Ahuja, Ankita Khandelwal and Bhakti Mehare
The accused, Hema Ahuja, Ankita Khandelwal and Bhakti Mehare

Court to decide on three doctors' bail pleas on Monday

A special court will on Monday decide on the bail pleas of three women doctors arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of their junior colleague at a civic-run hospital.
Special court judge P B Jadhav heard the arguments on the bail pleas of the three doctors on Friday. Payal Tadvi, 26, a second-year postgraduate medical student attached to BYL Nair Hospital, allegedly committed suicide in her hostel room on May 22. Her family alleged that three of her seniors ragged her and hurled casteist abuses at her, forcing Tadvi to take her life. All three are in judicial custody. Opposing their bail pleas, advocate Gunratan Sadavarte, appearing for the victim's family, brought to the notice of the court a letter written by Dr Tadvi's mother to the police commissioner, which said that the three accused had threatened her and the victim's husband inside the court premises.
Defence advocate Abad Ponda said the accused had just pulled her up for work.

Timeline of the case:

1. Dr Payal Tadvi committed suicide on May 22 after being allegedly subjected to casteist slurs by her peers
2. Following her suicide, her parents filed an FIR against her seniors — Dr Hema Ahuja, Dr Bhakti Mehare and Dr Ankita Khandelwal
3. On May 27, the head of the gynaecology department unit to which Dr Payal belonged – Dr Yi Ching Ling – was replaced with an additional professor without any written communication
4. The Dalit students' collective from IIT-B, TISS, University of Hyderabad (UoH) and many other educational institutions extended their support and solidarity to the movement against caste atrocities
5. State inquiry committee confirmed she was indeed subjected to casteist slurs by her seniors
6. On May 28, the three senior doctors were arrested and were produced before the court on May 29 where they were remanded to police custody till May 31
7. On May 30, the investigation was transferred to crime branch
8. A special court on May 31 sent the three doctors to judicial custody till June 10
9. On June 3, Crime Branch sought the custody of the three accused
10. On June 10, a decision to video record the court proceedings in the case was announced by the special court hearing the case

Also Read: Mumbai doctor's suicide: Nair Hospital trying to whitewash casteist harassment case

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