Pune: A tussle within a medical association seems to have taken an ugly turn after a well known Pune- based woman bariatric surgeon lodged an FIR against six other celebrated fellow bariatric surgeons with allegations of extortion, harassment and defamation.
Based on the complaints of the woman bariatric surgeon, a case has been registered against the doctors under sections 385 (extortion), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 500 (defamation) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the Samarth police station.
Hindustan Times reports that Pune based bariatric surgeon, Dr Jayashree Todkar, 47, has filed a complaint against six top most bariatric surgeons of the country, including three from Delhi, and one each from Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad for allegedly running a smear campaign against her in order to prevent her from running for the president of Obesity Surgeons Society of India (OSSI). She also claimed in her complaint that the accused doctors have allegedly asked her for Rs 15-20 lakh in order to stop the ‘campaign’.
As per the Mumbai Mirror report, the woman doctor claimed that the six accused doctors ‘knew’ that she would win the elections for the post and that’s why felt threatened. She also alleged that the six doctors only started maligning her in order to ensure that she doesn’t win.
Dr Todkar told TOI, “It all started when I filed my nomination for the OSSI vice-president’s post. They started a smear campaign against me and tried to influence the president of International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO). The IFSO’s first letter raising concerns about financial discrepancies came on January 26. They circulated this e-mail to all the members to mobilize opinion against me. The next mail from IFSO, which came on January 31, said there was no irregularity. But that mail was not sent to all the members.”
“In a meeting held in Chennai in the last week of February, one doctor demanded Rs 20 lakh for a cover-up or they would continue with the smear campaign. In another meeting held in the last week of this month in Delhi, the other two passed lewd remarks”, she alleged.
“All the doctors are seniors and I never expected this to happen. I tried to put up with the incidents, but my patience ran out. All this was done only to malign my image. It has spoiled my image nationally and internationally”, she told the Mirror.
The six doctors named in the FIR include Dr Surendra Dhore Patil from Pune; Dr Mufazal Lakdawala from Mumbai; Dr Suredra Ugale from Hyderabad; and Dr Rajesh Khullar, Dr Pradeep Chowbe and Dr Atul Peers from Delhi.
Doctors Rebuff Allegations
When Mirror contacted the accused doctors, they said the genesis of the saga lay in the management of the conclave held in Goa in 2017. In this context, Jacques Himpens, president of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO), had written to the OSSI management on January 26, stating, “Despite several requests from the IFSO leadership, there have been repeated delays and three different financial statements submitted in relation to the Goa meeting. We at IFSO watched this financial farce in growing disbelief and will not omit to thoroughly investigate the matter.” IFSO is an international body of bariatric surgeons, and the India-based OCCI is affiliated to it.
Rebuffing the allegations, Dr Choube told Mirror, “Why would we want to defame her? In fact, there were irregularities in the audit report of the event held in Goa last year. The lady doctor was an organizer at the event. There was no email exchanged among the group members that was defamatory. If the lady doctor was abused and the papers were thrown during the conference, let her submit a video of the incident.”
Further to this, Dr Dhorepatil, founder member of OSSI, told TOI-“All her (woman surgeon) allegations are baseless. I am one of the past presidents on the fact-finding committee, which is going into the financial discrepancies related to the international meet. We are only doing the work we have been asked to. We never defamed her.”
The police informed that investigation has been initiated in the matter. Speaking to TOI, Deputy Commissioner of police (zone-II) Pravin Munde said, “The issue prima facie appears to have arisen from the dispute within the surgeons’ body over financial misappropriation. They (OSSI) should probe the misappropriation of funds on their own, but the acts alleged by the complainant cannot be overlooked.”