New Delhi: A first-year post-graduate medical student died late on Sunday, February 26 night, in Hyderabad, five days after she had attempted to end her life by self-administering injections. She had attempted suicide allegedly over ragging by her seniors at Kakatiya Medical College (KMC), Warangal.
According to Telangana Today, mild tension prevailed outside the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad on Sunday where the 26-year-old medical student battled for life for five days. Police were deployed in large numbers to prevent any untoward incident as a number of groups congregated outside the hospital to demand justice for the family of the deceased. Some student groups had tried to block the body from being shifted to Gandhi Medical Hospital for postmortem.
“Despite continuous efforts by a multidisciplinary team of specialist doctors, Dr. Dharavath Preethi could not be saved and was declared dead on February 26, 2023, at 9.10 pm,” the newspaper quoted from the bulletin issued by NIMS Medical Superintendent Dr. Satyanarayana.
Dr. Preethi was rushed to Hyderabad from Warangal after she was found unconscious in her hostel on Wednesday, February 23 night. She had left MGM Hospital – where she was on duty – that night after complaining of headache and stomach pain.
Local Telugu news portals reported that the deceased junior doctor had told her mother over the phone the day before she was to take the extreme step that she was being harassed by Mohammed Ali Saif, a second-year post-graduate student, along with other seniors. She had also informed her mother that there was no respite in the situation even after her father had made the police warn Saif against harassment. The junior doctor had lamented over the phone her head of department, Nagarjuna Reddy, had pulled her up for taking the matter to the notice of the principal, rather than discussing it with him. The audio of the phone call has surfaced on the internet.
Based on Dr.Preethi’s father’s complaint and the leaked audio clip of the phone call, Warangal Police arrested Dr. Saif on the charges of abetment to suicide and also invoked sections related to ragging and those under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dr. Preethi hailed from the Banjara-Lambada community, which is categorised as Scheduled Tribe in Telangana.
Dr. Preethi’s father, Narender, said it was rare for girls from their community to attain higher education, and his daughter had always been a hardworking student.
“When she got her MBBS seat a few years ago, it was a dream come true for our family. There are very few in our Banjara-Lambada community, and definitely not in our family, who have reached that level of education. Most girls don’t even dream that far, but Preethi always aimed high. I have studied only up to Class 12 but my wife and I worked very hard to provide everything to our children,” Indian Express quoted Narender saying.
Warangal police commissioner A.V. Ranganath told NDTV that the WhatsApp chats on the victim’s and the accused’s phones suggested ragging. “Further investigation will be conducted once the toxicology report comes in,” he said.
Taking cognisance of the issue, the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for SC/ST issued notices to the Telangana government, the superintendent of MGM Hospital, the principal and the head of the department of anaesthesiology where Preethi was a student.
Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan had visited Preethi in the hospital. A compensation of Rs 10 lakh has been announced for the family.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers (www.spif.in/seek-help/) they can call to speak in confidence. You could also refer them to the nearest hospital.