‘The torture continued’: Mumbai doctor’s chilling suicide note released
The three-page note, part of a 1,200-page charge sheet submitted by Mumbai Police, is a damning indictment of the three accused — Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal — who have been named in the letter as responsible for the suicide, and may be considered Tadvi’s dying declaration.Updated: Jul 26, 2019, 12:32 IST
Three medical students at Mumbai’s BYL Nair hospital mentally harassed, humiliated and ill-treated 26-year-old Payal Tadvi for months and ultimately drove her to take her life, according to her suicide note made public by the police on Thursday.
The three-page note, part of a 1,200-page charge sheet submitted by Mumbai Police, is a damning indictment of the three accused — Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal — who have been named in the letter as responsible for the suicide, and may be considered Tadvi’s dying declaration.
“I hold Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehare and Ankita Khandelwal responsible for condition of me and Snehal [fellow student Snehal Shinde],” read the note.
Tadvi, who belonged to the marginalised Tadvi-Bhil community, committed suicide on May 22 after months of alleged caste-based discrimination. Her death sent shock waves through India’s medical fraternity and Scheduled Caste (SC)-Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities. The three women were arrested a week later. Tadvi-Bhil is classified as an ST community in Maharashtra.
In the suicide note addressed to her mother and father, Tadvi says that she found no support in her department and no way out of the harassment. “I step into this college hoping I will get to learn under such good institute. But people started showing their colours. Initially me and Snehal didn’t come forward and said anything to anyone. The torture continued to the level that I could not bear. I complain against them but it showed no result,” the letter read.
“I have lost my professional life, personal life, everything because it has been declared by them that they will not let me learn anything until they are here in Nair,” she added in the note.
A recovered photograph of Tadvi’s suicide note and a forensic report confirming that the handwriting in the note was Tadvi’s are part of the charge sheet.
Tadvi said in the note that the three women blocked her education and posted her elsewhere in a bid to prevent her from getting experience as a gynecologist.
“I am prohibited from handling labour room from last 3 week because they don’t find me efficient. I have been asked to stay out of labour room during OPD [outpatient department] hours. Also they asked me to do HMIS [Health Management Information System] entry on computer they do not allow me check patients, all I am doing is clerical work,” the letter read.
Tadvi said despite putting in effort, her condition didn’t improve and it left her mentally disturbed. “Environment is not healthy to work and I’ve lost hope for anything to change cause I know it won’t. No output will come out if standing/speaking up for yourself,” she said in the note.
“I have tried a lot, come forward many times, spoke with madam about this but nothing has been done. I literally do not see anyway. I can only see THE END,” the note added.
The charge sheet detailed the testimony of Shinde, who told police that the trio of Ahuja, Mehare and Khandelwal demeaned Tadvi a day before she killed herself, and threatened action against her if she went to have dinner without completing the tasks the three women had given her. Manisha Lawate, a helper at Nair Hospital, told police that three months before the suicide, when Tadvi was on ward rounds, Ahuja came there and flung casteist slurs at her. Lawate claimed that Ahuja told Tadvi, “You’re not fit to deliver a child. How dare she stand equal to us.”
“The trio [Ahuja, Meher and Khandelwal] used to call me dumb and Tadvi oversmart and used to make fun of us,” Shinde said in her statement. She added that in May, Ahuja asked Tadvi and Shinde how much had they scored in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and taunted them saying they got admission in medical course as they were from a reserved category.
On July 30, the Bombay high court will hear the bail plea of the three accused, who are facing charges of abetment of suicide and under the SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Abad Ponda, lawyer of the three accused, pointed out that the charge sheet filed by the prosecution relied heavily on the suicide note.
“The suicide note speaks about harassment meted out with regard to work. There is no whisper about caste or that the accused persons made remarks about the victim’s caste,” Ponda argued.
(with agency inputs)