The Mumbai Police has filed a 1,203-page-long chargesheet before a special court on Tuesday in the case of  Payal Tadvi, a tribal medical student who committed suicide in May this year. Three of her senior doctors stand accused in the case, namely—Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Meher and Ankita Khandelwal. They were arrested on May 29, a week after Tadvi committed suicide.

One of the major points highlighted in the chargesheet is that the handwriting in the three-page-long suicide note, photo of which was found in Tadvi’s mobile phone, matched the writing samples provided by her family, thus confirming that the note was indeed written by her. It also noted that there is strong evidence in the form of statements given by around 180 witnesses against the accused persons. These witnesses include Tadvi’s family members and colleagues. The accused doctors have been charged under abetment of suicide, destruction of evidence and common intent under IPC, Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act and Information Technology Act.

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“We had received a report from an analyst confirming that the handwriting in the photograph of the suicide note retrieved from Tadvi’s phone matched with her writing samples. The three-page suicide note, written in English on medical documents, is strong evidence documented by Payal herself against the three doctors. With the verification, we believe it is irrefutable,” a senior officer said, Indian Express reported.

“We had received a report from an analyst confirming that the handwriting in the photograph of the suicide note retrieved from Tadvi’s phone matched with her writing samples.” – Senior Officer working on the case.

Tadvi took a photo of the suicide note on her phone at 5.05p.m. before she hung herself by the fan in her hostel room. She took the photo after she received a call from Ahuja at 4.21p.m. which lasted 121 seconds and was the last call she received before committing suicide. The charge sheet also includes screenshots of a WhatsApp group called “Reminders” consisting of Tadvi and the two accused doctors and other resident doctors. Reportedly the screenshots show the two doctors humiliating Tadvi on the group. Hospital staff members have also alleged in their statements that Tadvi was harassed by the accused doctors on the basis of her caste. Apart from these, Tadvi’s friend Snehal told the crime branch that Tadvi was bullied by these doctors because she took admission under the Scheduled Tribes category as she belonged to the Bhil Tadvi community of Maharashtra.

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The statement of other witnesses from the day of Tadvi’s suicide state that she was allegedly shouted at in front of other doctors and hospital staff. And there is CCTV footage that shows that the accused doctors visited Tadvi’s room on the eighth floor after her body was removed from there. “We have attached the CCTV footage of the eighth-floor corridor outside Payal’s room, where the three accused are allegedly seen entering her room after she was shifted to the trauma room,” an officer said.

While the crime branch has got hold of the photos of the suicide note, the handwritten hardcopy of it is missing. It described two major instances that pushed her to kill herself. Of the two, one happened on May 21, when Tadvi was insulted for allegedly putting up pictures on social media with her friends. The second happened on the day of her suicide i.e. May 22, when Tadvi was humiliated in front of the other doctors and staff in the hospital’s operation theatre.

The special court dealing with SC/ST cases rejected the bail petition of the three accused on June 24 after which they moved the Bombay High Court which will hear the accused doctors petition on Thursday.

The Bombay HC stated that it needs to take crucial factors into consideration before making a judgment. “When it comes to regular bail (once chargesheet is filed), three factors need to be considered,” the bench said, Sroll.in reported. “First, if the accused persons will flee or abscond. Second, if they will tamper with the evidence or witnesses. And third, if the accused will cause harm to the society in general.”

Tadvi, who hailed from Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, joined the PG course on May 1, 2018. She did her MBBS from the Government Medical College in Miraj and then she went to Sangli for a year for her internship, before joining the PG course at the Topiwala National Medical College. When she had just joined the PG course and shifted to Mumbai, she was asked to share her room with Dr Ahuja and Dr Mehar. “The two began harassing her soon,” Tadvi’s husband, Dr Salman, alleges.

It has also been reported that Tadvi’s mother, Abeda had alerted the head of the department about the bullying that her daughter was facing at the hands of the three doctors, but no action was taken. “My daughter was extremely strong. But this constant abuse eventually broke her. The three accused should be punished so that it sets an example for others who traumatise and torture students like Payal,” Abeda had said.

Picture credit- Pic by Twitter/ Vishal Sonara

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