Social media campaign on eve of return of accused to Topiwala National Medical College

On the eve of return of the three accused in the Payal Tadvi suicide case to the Topiwala National Medical College attached to the Nair Hospital, demands for a review of the Supreme Court order allowing them to complete their education from the institution grew stronger. By evening, voices were raised on social media seeking justice for the doctor, who ended her life last May after suffering alleged casteist abuse and discrimination at the hands of the three accused.

Last week, the apex court granted the application of trio – Ankita Khandelwal, Hema Ahuja and Bhakti Mehare – to resume their studies at Nair from October 12, and even allowed them to stay at the hospital quarters if the rules required them to be fill-time residents.

On Sunday, Dr Sanjay Dabhade of Pune-based organisation Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (National Forum for Adivasi Rights) and Jati Anta Sangharsh Samiti wrote to the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, urging the state government to file review petition and engage senior advocates Kapil Sibal or Rebecca John to argue the matter.

He said several other groups, including the Tribal Doctors’ Forum had also written to the government.

The Maharashtra government and Mumbai police had opposed the application of the accused contending that their presence in the college, would affect the trial of the case.

Dabhade also sought the removal of Dr Deelip Mhaisekar, vice chancellor of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Dr Ramesh Bharmal, Dean, Nair hospital, for not acting on the report of the anti-ragging committee.

He pointed out that the three accused were suspended for reasons other than ragging, due to which the recommendations of the report were not acted upon by the authorities.

“They were suspended on May 27 on the grounds that there was an FIR against them, they had absconded from the college and because they were not cooperating with the investigation. The same day, after their suspension, the anti-ragging committee gave its report in which they recommended their suspension. Had they taken action based on the report, the apex court would not have given such an order,” he pointed out.

He said the family got the report only after the case went to Supreme Court.

Dr Bharmal had told Mirror last Friday, a day after the verdict, that the college would discuss the resumption of the trio with the legal team.

In response to a Twitter storm, the hashtag #JusticeforDrPayal started trending in the evening.

“Allowing the casteist bullies (who drove Dr Payal to take her own life) to resume their education emboldens the culture of ragging and the culture of caste discrimination within educational institutions. Don’t set a wrong precedent,” write Meena Kandasamy tweeted.

Tadvi, a second-year postgraduate medica student attached to BYL Nair Hospital, committed suicide in her hostel room in the hospital premises on May 22, 2019 allegedly after suffering casteist abuse and discrimination at the hands of the three accused.