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All 3 Accused Held for Mumbai Doctor's 'Suicide', NCW Wants Hospital to Probe 'Casteist' Slur Angle

Senior Doctors Bhakti Mehre, Ankita Khandelwal and Hema Ahuja, accused of tormenting 26-year-old Payal Tadvi with casteist slurs, were arrested on Tuesday.


Updated:May 29, 2019, 3:05 PM IST

Mumbai: All three doctors accused of abetting suicide of a junior colleague at a state-run hospital in Mumbai were arrested on Tuesday.

Senior Doctors Bhakti Mehre, Ankita Khandelwal and Hema Ahuja, accused of tormenting 26-year-old Payal Tadvi with casteist slurs, have been arrested, the ANI reported on Wednesday.

Agripada police arrested Bhakti after initial interrogation on Tuesday evening, while Hema Ahuja and Ankita Khandelwal were arrested late in the night. A case was registered against them after Payal committed suicide on May 22, the police said.

All three doctors were produced before a special court in Mumbai on Wednesday and remanded to police custody till May 31.

Police sought maximum custody of 14 days for the accused to investigate if they had removed any suicide note after Payal's death. They also plan to retrieve Whatsapp data from the mobile phones of the accused to establish the sequence of events.

In her statement to the court, Hema said: “We went to the dean's office to request them to record our statements on May 23 when police had come. We went twice, we were there for 3 to 4 hours, but our statements were not recorded. Later, we were told to go to the police station and record our statement.”

Nitin Salute, lawyer for Payal's family, argued in the court that as per the circumstances and marks found on Payal’s body, this be treated as a murder case. “The accused had taken Payal’s body to some other place and it was later brought back to hospital, so there is a suspicion of tampering. Therefore, the police must look at this as a murder case,” Salute said.

But defence lawyer argued that the room was closed from inside where the body of the deceased was found and the allegations of foul play are false. “All cellphone records are already with the police and nothing more is left with the accused. There is no need of police custody at this stage and the accused should be sent to judicial custody instead,” the defence lawyer said.

About the accusation of abetment to suicide, the defence lawyer said the assumption is based on the statement of the deceased’s mother and is supported by any other proof.

The defence lawyer further said that a family dispute could also be the reason for the extreme step as the deceased and her husband were living separately despite being in same city. However, Salute disputed the claim, saying there was not dispute in family.

Tadvi committed suicide on May 22. Her family has alleged that the doctors taunted her for belonging to a Scheduled Tribe.

The three doctors have been booked under the Atrocities Act, the Anti-Ragging Act and the IT Act and Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.

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