Indian minister’s wife’s death ‘unnatural and sudden’

Thanks;Nirmala Ganapathy
The Straits Times
Publication Date : 19-01-2014

Doctors said on Saturday that the death of an Indian junior minister’s wife at a luxury hotel was “unnatural and sudden”.

Sunanda Pushkar, 52, the third wife of high-profile politician Shashi Tharoor, died just two days after she took to Twitter to accuse him and a Pakistani journalist of having an affair.

The tragedy has gripped India, coming so soon after she went public saying she wanted to expose a “rip-roaring affair” between her husband, a former United Nations diplomat, and Lahore-based Mehr Tarar, 45.

“There were certain injury marks on the body of Sunanda Pushkar, but the nature of these cannot be revealed,” said Dr Sudhir Gupta, one of three doctors who carried out the post-mortem examination at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Saturday.

He did not say whether the injuries were linked to the death but said a final report would be out in two days.

An initial report showed no sign of poisoning, he added.

Tharoor, 57, who was earlier admitted to the hospital with chest pains, took his wife’s body away for cremation, surrounded by dozens of television cameras and photographers.

A doctor said the minister had been recently diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. He was released after a team of cardiologists gave the all-clear.

Tharoor, India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development, found his wife’s body in their suite at the five-star Leela Palace hotel on Friday evening when he returned from a Congress Party meeting in the Indian capital.

The couple were said to have moved into the luxury hotel last Wednesday as their official home was undergoing renovation.

The scandal erupted on Wednesday after Pushkar tweeted about troubles in their three-year marriage, accusing her husband of infidelity and Tarar of stalking him.

Tweets to Tarar were posted from Tharoor’s official account on Wednesday, declaring that he loved her and was waiting to be together with her.

“I love you… And I go while in love with you, irrevocably, irreversibly…” said one.

But Tharoor then claimed that his account had been hacked.

In a bizarre twist, his wife told Indian newspapers later that day that it was she who had actually sent the love tweets to Tarar, to expose the journalist.

“That woman pursued and pursued him. Men are stupid anyway. For all you know, she is a Pakistani agent,” she told The Indian Express newspaper, saying that she planned to divorce her husband.

Tharoor and Pushkar later released a joint statement saying they were “happily married” and blamed unauthorised tweets for creating a controversy.

But Pushkar continued to SMS and call several journalists, revealing that all was not well in their marriage. One of them, television anchor Sagarika Ghose, said Pushkar appeared depressed and was sobbing when she spoke to her earlier on Friday.

Local reports said she had been taking medication for tuberculosis and lupus, an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.

In one of her last tweets, she said: “Who knows when I got 2 go with joy hastay huey jayengey (I will go laughing).”

Police were informed of the death by Tharoor’s aide Abhinav Kumar, who told reporters on Friday that Pushkar “seemed to be sleeping in a normal way” when she was found.

“There were no signs of any foul play or any struggle. She had no sign of poisoning or anything,” he told reporters.

The police have questioned staff at the luxury hotel who last saw Pushkar at 3:30pm on Friday when she ordered lunch.

Tarar, the woman who had angrily dismissed the accusations of having an affair with Tharoor, on Saturday tweeted her shock over the death.

“She had a Twitter fight with me, and then she died. I didn’t even get a chance to call her up, and clear the air,” she told CNN later. “She seemed larger than life, always smiling, and the manner in which she died would haunt me for a long, long time.”