Indian minister’s wife died ‘unnatural’ death, autopsy shows

January 18, 2014 11:42 am


Sunanda Pushkar (left) and Shashi Tharoor arrive at parliament in New Delhi on March 12, 2012 for the opening of the budget session (AFP/File, Prakash Singh)
Sunanda Pushkar (left) and Shashi Tharoor arrive at parliament in New Delhi on March 12, 2012 for the opening of the budget session (AFP/File, Prakash Singh)
NEW DELHI, Jan 18 – The wife of Indian minister Shashi Tharoor, found dead in a luxury hotel after accusing her husband of being unfaithful, suffered an “unnatural, sudden death”, a doctor who performed an autopsy on her body said Saturday.

“More tests” are needed to determine the cause of Sunanda Pushkar’s death and the final results will not be known for two to three days, Sudhir Gupta, one of three doctors who performed the autopsy, told reporters.

He added Pushkar’s body had “some physical injuries”, but it was unclear whether they were related to her death.

The body was expected to be cremated later in the day, local media reports said.

Tharoor found his wife dead in a luxury hotel room Friday, just two days after she accused him on Twitter and in other media of having an affair with a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar.

“There were no signs of any foul play,” Tharoor’s press assistant Abhinav Kumar told reporters. “She seemed to be sleeping in a normal way but later it was found she was dead.”

Tharoor was admitted Saturday to the same top government hospital where the autopsy was performed on his wife’s body after complaining of “general chest discomfort”, a hospital spokeswoman told reporters.

But his test results were normal and he was released. TV footage showed him leaving the hospital looking ashen.

Pushkar, 52, a Dubai-based entrepreneur before marrying Tharoor in 2010, had been taking medications for various illnesses, including tuberculosis, according to local media.

In one of her last tweets, which later appeared to have been removed, she wrote: “Whatever is destined to happen will happen, will go smiling”.

Indian social media users called it the first “death by Twitter”, with the drama being played out over the micro-blogging site.

The death of Pushkar, described by friends as the “life of any party”, sent shockwaves through New Delhi’s social set.

The couple appeared deeply in love when they wed and were a glamorous pair on the social scene, but the rumour mill had been abuzz for months with talk of marital problems.

Indian newspapers splashed the death on their front pages. “Soon after Twitter war, Sunanda Pushkar found dead in Delhi hotel,” said the tabloid Mail Today in a headline.

Events began unfolding late Wednesday when a curious messages appeared on the Twitter account of the suave thrice-married Tharoor, a former high-flying UN diplomat, novelist and key government spokesman.

They showed private exchanges purportedly between the 57-year-old minister (@shashitharoor) and Pakistani journalist Tarar (@mehrtarar), in which she professed her love for him and he said his wife had discovered their relationship.

Tharoor, known as “Mr Twitter” with over two million followers, quickly responded by saying his account was “hacked”, but Pushkar spoke to newspapers saying she sent the messages.

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