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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 27 New Delhi June 22, 2019

Threatened Existence of Tadvis (Bheels, Muslims etc.)

Monday 24 June 2019

by Mustafa Khan

The death of Dr Payal Tadvi, a second year post-graduate at the Nair Hospital in Mumbai, is regrettable and unfortunate. She was doing her post-graduation and that in itself was enviable because of the difficulty in getting admission. But for her nomadic tribe, reservation of such a coveted opportunity for post-graduation education in a medical course was a matter of envy for others. It was easy to climb the ladder of progress and advancement. Even so that proved a bane for her. Those of the upper castes sometimes grudged it and tried to take it out by insulting and humiliating her. But it is certain that the three doctors committed gross violation of her human rights of dignity and work. These rights are also enshrined in the Constitution of India. If she committed suicide, then it was the terror of being tortured in such a demeaning manner that drove her to end her life.

There are such examples galore. But coming to the particulars of her own life, on the fateful day of May 22 she had called up her husband, Dr Salman, and told him that she would be meeting him soon. So there was no fear of anything. It was quite casual. The three accused doctors, Aniketa Khandelwal, Hema Ahuja and Bhakti Mehare, lived in different wings of the hostel. And yet they were at Payal’s room. By design or accidentally? They took Payal’s body to the casualty ward. Why did they not call for help, sound alarm or call the police? Why did they then go on absconding instead of mourning and showing solidarity with the dead? The absence of these manifests the sucourless threatened existence of Payal.

The accused three showed signs of shunning the police and media. They gave excuse of needing a fair trial. This made the people in Mumbai turn against the three. The sophistication of language and argument smacked lack of sincerity on their part.

Members of the Tadv community have faced threat to their existence in group as well. The authentic account of the bomb blasts in Malegaon begins in the Gujarat nomadic region of Dangs. Swami Aseemanand organised the Shabri Kumbh Mela near Pumpa pond of Shabri Dham on February 11, 12, and 13, 2006. A much- publicised part of the mammoth gathering was to welcome Tadvi Bhil Muslims back to the Hindu fold. The Muslims in the Dangs district of Gujarat, the neighbouring districts of Nandurbar, Dhule and Malegaon town saw red in this. On February 5, they organised a move to make their fellow religionists desist from attending the ceremonies at the Shabri Kumbh Mela. Ahmad Burhan Khan Tadwi of Haripura, Yawal Gujarat, Masoom Rahim Tadwi of Maharad, Chopra and Ramzan Sardar Tadwi of Palan Taluka, Rawer—all from Gujarat, issued a pamphlet calling for abstaining Muslims from joining Aseemanand. This angered Aseemanand who visited the rural areas of Dhulia in the vicinity of Malegaon. Within eight days of the attack on the Sankat Mochan Temple of Allahabad he called a meeting and asked the Hindutva groups, primarily Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matrum, etc. to explode bombs in Malegaon in retaliation. Malegaon was the first target as it had a huge population of Muslims. It is worth noting that Akkalkuwan and Navapur areas are in Maharashtra where Tadvis are in large numbers living a primitive life as their fellow tribal natives there. But Akkalkuwan also has the best education campus of Islamic seminary and educational hub, an eye-sore of the Hindutiva groups.

Aseemanand’s move against the Tadvis posed an existential threat to the community. The case of Dr Payal also is of the same nature. She was the first of her community to have become a doctor. She was humiliated in the operation theatre with her file thrown at her in anger. She had performed the operation well.

Payal had natural talents and so she was not the stereotypical idiot as was made out. The set of genetic determiners could not obstruct her in divining the cause and diagnosing the disease. As a gynaecologist she was a non-judgmental person. She was not opinionated. She saw the case as it is and what best should be done for the remedy. The name in the case paper would not sway her from the principles of medical science.

Mustafa Khan, who resides in Malegaon (Maharashtra), has the following blog:

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