Dr Smriti Laharpure committed suicide in Indore on June 11. Even three weeks after her suicide, police is yet to file an FIR against those named in her suicide letter
She wanted to study. She once said, ‘Papa, don’t think about my marriage. I want to focus on my career’,” KK Laharpure, 60-year-old retired bank manager told Newslaundry. On June 11, his daughter, Dr Smriti Laharpure’s career and life came to an end, when the 32-year-old committed suicide. Laharpure is now fighting a battle against the system to get justice for his daughter. This includes following up with police officers in Indore, trying to fix meetings with political leaders, and reaching out to activists and the larger doctors’ community.
Shockingly, even three weeks after the incident, the police have not filed a first information report against those accused of abetment of suicide in Smriti’s suicide letter.
In her four-page suicide letter, the 32-year-old medical student has held chairman of Indore’s Index Medical College Suresh [Singh] Bhadoriya and the head of the anaesthesiology department, KK Khan, responsible for her death. “…Because we filed the case, the management used to HARASS us, especially my HOD, Dr Khan. She kept us out of the OT [operation theatre] and department and humiliated us publicly for 2-3 months till we surrendered to take our case back,” Dr Smriti wrote in the letter recovered from her mobile phone.
A native of Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, Laharpure family has been living in the state capital, Bhopal, for years now. Dr Smriti after completing her MBBS degree from a reputed medical college in Bhopal cleared the NEET exam. She opted for Doctor of Medicine (MD) in anaesthesia from Index Medical College. According to allegations mentioned in the suicide letter, Index Medical College arbitrarily hiked the fees from R8.55 lakh to R9.90 lakh — a hike of R1.35 lakh annually. A bunch of students, including Smriti, approached the Jabalpur High Court against this arbitrary hike. The college administration started putting pressure on these students to withdraw the case soon after, the letter has alleged.
Sitting in Delhi’s AIIMS campus, Laharpure recalls the last conversation with her daughter. “I spoke to her for the last time on May 30.” On June 11, his brother received a call from the college saying that it was an emergency. “When we reached Indore, we were told that she was still in her hostel,” Laharpure took a pause and added, “we realised something was wrong.” Dr Smriti’s dead body was lying in her bedroom and the police had reached the spot, recalled her father.
In the letter, Dr Smriti has alleged that the Index administration was arbitrarily deducting their stipend. Her father, Laharpure showed us documents of one such incident. In 2017, in an application to the administration, she wrote that she was marked absent and fined for five days as she was not “found on duty on April 22”. She had attached the form along with the application which clearly showed that her leave was approved by the HoD.
According to Laharepure, the administration would deduct a fine of up to R10,000 from the meagre stipend of R45,000. “Her fellow students are under pressure from the college administration. They fear, if they speak up, the administration will ensure that they don’t get a degree from the college,” he said. On Doctor’s Day, July 1, Laharpure narrated the entire trauma and harassment that her daughter went through at Index Medical College at a function in AIIMS, Delhi. The Resident Doctors’ Association [AIIMS] also proposed to pass a resolution to fight for justice for Dr Smriti and a case be registered immediately against Bhadoriya and Khan under the section of abetment to suicide.
Meanwhile, Laharepure has levelled a series of serious allegations against Index Medical college’s owner and chairman Bhadoriya.
Back in Indore, the college administration has claimed that Dr Smriti committed suicide due to a love affair. However, they have failed to back their claims with any argument or evidence.
“I have unsuccessfully tried to meet MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” Laharpure is trying to meet netas to get justice for his daughter. On Sunday, he had come prepared to drop letters to PMO and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He told Newslaundry that he has very little hope from the police as he fears there is a nexus between Bhadoriya and those in power in the state.