The state Health Department will soon form a committee to amend current rules and regulations on ragging. The decision was taken after Payal Tadvi, a 26-year-old postgraduate student, committed suicide by hanging herself at the hostel of BYL Nair Hospital. Often it has been observed that victims have to bear the brunt of ragging incidents. Even though the state government had amended anti-ragging laws, but the ragging incidents continue to occur at colleges. There is a need to strengthen the anti-ragging laws and award punishment to the accused.
All India Student Federation National President Syed Valiullah Khadri said, “This is a very shameful incident and it should not have occurred. Today, the method of making friendship has changed among students. Due to the advent of mobile and media, the culture has changed in colleges. Seniors sometimes indulge in ragging activities of junior which sometimes can claim their lives.”
He further said, “As per the UGC guidelines every college should form committees to monitor ragging activities. However, the UGC and colleges have failed to monitor these incidents. Colleges must hold counseling activities for new students.”
Payal had alleged that three of her senior colleagues used to harass her and pass casteist remarks against her. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctor (MARD) branch has suspended three doctors who were accused in this case. However, they are yet to be arrested. Tadvi who was pursuing her post graduation in Nair hospital belonged to the Adivasi Tadvi Bhil community. She was sharing a room with the three accused.
Maharashtra’s Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan told the reporters, “A three-member committee will be formed to examine rules on ragging. A committee will comprise member from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), vice-chancellor of the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) and dean of the government hospital. The committee will soon be constituted and stringent action will be taken against the accused.”
Social activist Abhijeet Rane asserted, “The government is taking very good steps to control ragging incidents in colleges. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has taken a very good initiative to avert these incidents. Strict law should be framed to curb ragging. After the formation of a committee, the percentage of female exploitation has come down. Even if a committee is formed, there won’t be 100 per cent reduction in ragging incidents, but there will be a subsequent change.”
Last year, Payal’s mother Abeda Tadvi had complained to the authorities after three doctors started harassing her daughter. Authorities nonetheless turned a blind eye towards it and failed to take any step to prevent ragging incidents.
“I spoke to Payal around 4 pm and she informed me that she was being mentally tortured. She had complained to me earlier as well. I had requested the lecturers to resolve this issue but they ignored it. I was denied permission to meet the dean. I seek justice for my daughter. The medical registration of girls who harassed my daughter should be suspended,” said Abeda Tadvi.
Payal, who hails from Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, had joined the PG course in Gynecology at the Topiwala National Medical College which is attached to the BYL Nair Hospital on May 1, 2018. She had complained of harassment by senior doctors in December 2018.
Dr. Hema Ahuja, Dr. Bhakti Mehare and Dr. Ankita Khandelwal have been booked for abetment to suicide under sections of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Ragging Act and the Prevention of Atrocities Act. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) branch has suspended three doctors from their organisation. “After enquiries going on at various levels we have found that three resident doctors have been alleged by Payal’s relatives for harassing which resulted into her suicide,” stated a letter which was circulated by the organisation.