"When she was away, they would taunt her"
Dr Payal Tadvi, an Indian doctor from Mumbai committed suicide after she was harassed over the caste she belonged to.
She took her own life on May 22, 2019, and the case brought to light the issue of caste-based discrimination in India.
Three female doctors have since been arrested for allegedly driving the 26-year-old junior doctor to suicide.
Dr Tadvi’s husband, Dr Salman Tadvi explained her ordeal:
“When she came to Nair Hospital for her postgraduation, she was asked to temporarily share a room with Dr Hema Ahuja and Dr Bhakti Mehere.
“The two began harassing her soon. The two doctors would go to the toilet and wipe their feet on her mattress and litter it.
“When she was away, they would taunt her that she was spending time with her husband.”
It was also believed that the two doctors, along with another, had posted derogatory messages on a WhatsApp group.
The young Indian doctor had joined the hospital on a reservation quota which was for those from disadvantaged castes.
They receive a quota for minimum representation in schools, universities and government jobs.
Abeda Tadvi, the deceased’s mother, explained that her daughter had complained to the hospital’s head of department but she claimed no measures were taken. She said:
“Whenever she used to speak to me on the phone, she would say that these three people torture her as she belongs to a tribal community, use caste-related slurs on her. We want justice for her.”
She also said that Payal was harassed over “petty issues” by the three doctors. They also “threw files at her” in front of her patients.
“Had the authorities acted swiftly and shown sensitivity, my daughter would have been alive today.”
Hours before her death, Dr Tadvi reportedly told her mother that she could not bear the harassment from the three doctors any longer.
After finding out about the suicide, the three doctors went on the run.
The suicide created outrage on social media. This led to protests where people demanded justice.
Action was taken when the Mumbai Congress intervened. A case was filed against the three women.
A senior police officer explained that the three suspects were from influential families and had applied for anticipatory bail before they were arrested.
Dr Bhakti Mehare was arrested outside the court building when wanted to file for bail. She wore a burka in an attempt to disguise herself.
Dr Hema Ahuja was arrested at Andheri railway station in the early hours of May 29, 2019, following a tip-off.
On the same day, the third doctor, Ankita Khandelwal was arrested.
According to reports, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors has cancelled the memberships of the three suspects.
The three suspects submitted a letter, asking for the investigation to be conducted fairly.
In the letter, the doctors said: “This is not the way to do an investigation through the police force and media pressure, without hearing our side.”
They also claimed that it was the workload which drove the Indian doctor to suicide.
“You all are aware of the workload in residency and do you all really believe burdened with the workload is ragging?”
The three women were booked under the relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Anti-Ragging Act, the IT Act and Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.