Sunanda Pushkar was murdered, says Delhi Police

New Delhi: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, found dead nearly a year ago, was poisoned to death, the Delhi police officials said yesterday, triggering demands for Tharoor’s resignation from the Lok Sabha.

Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said a murder case has now been registered against ‘unknown persons’ and that the final medical report confirmed that Pushkar (52) died an unnatural death. “She died due to poisoning. Whether the poison was given orally or injected into her body is being probed,” he said, adding her viscera would be sent abroad.

Also Read: Sunanda cremated, body bore injury marks

Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor
In happier times: Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor. Pic/AFP

Ruling out suicide, Special Commissioner of Police Deepak Mishra said it was a case of “homicidal poisoning”.

A special police team has been formed to probe the murder. Asked why it took almost a year for the final medical report to come, Bassi said the interim report spoke of poisoning but did not say it was an unnatural death. The police got the final medical report from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on December 29. Police sources said the murder case was registered on January 4.

Also Read: Sunanda couldn't harm herself, reports false: Brother

Tharoor, a former central minister who is the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvana-nthapuram, said he was stunned by the developments and assured full cooperation with police. In a statement at Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor said he and the Pushkar family wanted access to all the information related to his wife’s death.

“I am anxious to see that this case is investigated thoroughly, and (I) assure the police my full cooperation. Although we never thought of any foul play in the death of my wife, we all want a comprehensive investigation and... unvarnished truth.”

Pushkar was found dead in a luxury hotel on January 17, 2014, a day after she and Tharoor checked in because their house was allegedly getting painted. Both had been married twice earlier. Tharoor was the then Minister of State (MoS) for Human Resource Development in the UPA government.

A day earlier, Tharoor and Pushkar had issued a joint statement saying they were “happily married and intend to remain that way” following media reports that Tharoor allegedly had an affair with a Pakistani journalist.

The Congress said it was not clear from Bassi’s comments whether Pushkar killed herself or was murdered. But both the BJP and the CPI(M) in Kerala demanded that Tharoor quit the Lok Sabha.  

Marxist leader and former Kerala chief minister V S Achuthanandan said, “Now with a murder case registered, Tharoor should resign and make himself available for the probe.”

Kerala BJP president V Muraleedharan too asked Tharoor to give up his seat. “The Congress should apologise for fielding him (in the LS polls).”

‘Unclear if she was murdered’
The Congress yesterday said it was not yet clear whether Sunanda Pushkar committed suicide or was murdered. “Not yet certain whether Sunanda’s death was suicide or murder,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said. He appealed that a sense of balance be maintained, refraining from any sensational overtone while reporting about the case, adding that the FIR was “just a beginning and not an end of a legal process”. “As the police have also said it’s not at all clear that whether it’s a self-administered poison or outside- administered poison... every person has the full right to be treated as completely innocent unless and until a process of law goes beyond and further.”

Chronology of the case

>> First autopsy report, submitted January 20, 2014, stated Sunanda died due to drug overdose. It reported a dozen injury marks on her body

>> A later autopsy report, in July, put the number of injury marks at 15. All the injuries were caused by blunt forces except one, which was an injection mark

>> Later, Sudhir Kumar Gupta, who headed the forensic team in AIIMS, alleged that he was being pressurised to show that Sunanda’s death was natural

>> AIIMS authorities denied his allegations, and Gupta was later moved out of his post

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