Three doctors who face a police case over the suicide of a 23-year-old junior at a state-run hospital in Mumbai have denied allegations that they subjected her to harassment with casteist slur, news agency ANI reported on Monday.
The three accused in a letter to a resident doctors' association said, "...If heavy workload is given the name of ragging, then we all have been ragged or ragging someone while performing our basic duties".
Payal Salman Tadvi, a resident doctor who was pursuing gynaecology, was found dead in her room on May 22 at BYL Nair Hospital. Ms Tadvi's mother Abeda Tadvi alleged her daughter told her on phone, before she killed herself, that the three seniors persistently harassed her with casteist slur.
The three doctors - Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mehar and Ankita Khandilwal - have written to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, which has cancelled their memberships, to ensure "a fair investigation to give justice", ANI reported.
It did not say whether the Association has received the letter or from where and how the trio sent it, a day after the hospital's dean said they are not in Mumbai.
"We want the college to conduct a fair investigation to give justice. But this is not the way to do investigation through the police force and media pressure without listening to our side," the trio said in the letter. "Just because we don't know the reason why suicide was committed, it is seriously an injustice to put the blame on us without any proper cause and levelling a charge of atrocity," said the letter signed by the three doctors.
"You all are aware of the workload in residency and do you all really believe burdened with the workload is ragging? We all are doing residency and are going through all three years of residency which has different aspects... Then all of us should be blamed as all the workload and pressure is always transferred from our seniors (lecturer, AP, HOU, and HoD) and department," the letter said.
Senior police officer Deepak Kundal said a First Information Report (FIR) has been filed and the three accused also face a case under a stringent law, which gives no scope for bail, to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from atrocities.
Ms Tadvi's mother, who is suffering from cancer, said they had complained to the management but no action was taken against the accused. She alleged the management assured the family they would look into the matter, but refused to commit the promise in writing. BYL Nair Hospital's dean Ramesh Bharmal denied the allegations. He said the hospital has formed an anti-ragging committee and summoned the three doctors. "They are currently not in Mumbai. The committee will file its report as soon as possible," the dean said.
A colleague of Ms Tadvi said her mother had indeed complained to the management. "If the management had acted on time, her life could have been saved and the career of the three doctors would not have gone wasted," the colleague told NDTV, asking not to be identified.
Student organisations came out on the streets in Mumbai today in protest against the alleged casteist slur that led to the suicide. "For the past three-four years, we have seen increase in such comments against the students coming from the reserved categories, which is very unfortunate," Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors general secretary Deepak Mundhe told news agency IANS.
With inputs from agencies