Sunanda Pushkar Murder: FIR Says She Suffered Physical Injuries Days Before Murder

09/01/2015 12:33 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
Former Indian Junior Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor listens to his wife Sunanda Pushkar at their wedding reception in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010. Tharoor resigned from his post earlier this year amid allegations of corruption in the bidding for an Indian premier league team at auction in April that also involved his friend and businesswoman Pushkar. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI: The first FIR (first information report) in the death of Sunanda Pushkar suggests that she sustained multiple physical injuries for upto four days before her death. It is unclear how she received these injuries, though at least one of them is a teeth bite mark, while another is an injection mark, according to the police report which was registered on January 1 this year, nearly a year after she was found dead in a Delhi hotel room. HuffPost India has a copy of the police report.

According to the FIR, the first official document that reveals the full sequence of events in the case, the Sarojini Nagar police received a call around 9 pm on January 17, 2014, from Shashi Tharoor's secretary Abhinav Kumar, saying that Pushkar had "done something" in Hotel Leela Palace's room number 345. When the police staff rushed to the spot, they found Sunanda Pushkar dead in the bedroom of the hotel suite. Tharoor, a former United Nations diplomat, was at the time the union human resources development minister and is currently a member of Parliament.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Pushkar had checked into the hotel on January 15 at 5.48 pm. Since Pushkar had been married to Tharoor for less than seven years, the Vasant Vihar subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Alok Sharma was notified, who inspected the bedroom and ordered inquest proceedings as per the law in such cases. As per Indian law, if a woman dies within seven years of her marriage, an inquest must be conducted. It is a provision meant to protect women from harassment over dowry.

SDM Sharma heard statements from witnesses and Pushkar's relatives. A post mortem conducted in AIIMS on January 18 by three forensic doctors revealed that the cause of death was likely poisoning, according to the FIR.

"The circumstantial evidences are suggestive of alprazolam poisoning," according to the police report. "All the injuries mentioned are caused by blunt force, simple in nature, non-contributing to death and are produced in scuffle, except injury number 10 which is an injection mark."

The police report also noted a teeth bite mark on Pushkar's body, and that most of the 15 injuries on her were between 12 hours to four days old.

After the autopsy report was sent to SDM Sharma on January 20, he asked the police to get an early viscera report from the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL). The viscera, clothes and medicines found in the room where Pushkar was found dead were immediately sent to the Lodhi Road CFSL.

The CFSL report sent to the police on 10 March, which was later forwarded to the AIIMS autopsy board on 29 March. AIIMS responded on 4 April, seeking additional information. Based on a second CFSL report on May 1, and another FSL report from Rohini on August 25, AIIMS gave another medical opinion on September 27, indicating that the cause of Pushkar's death was poisoning.

According to the viscera report, ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine was detected, and the AIIMS medical board decided to "reserve comment" on specifying the exact poison that killed Pushkar, citing limitations within the viscera report. The medical team also asked for further information from the police, which were provided to them on October 1.

The autopsy board, along with the CFSL team, visited the room in Hotel Leela again on November 5, gathering fresh evidence for chemical examination. Following this, another CFSL report was prepared on Christmas Eve last year and sent to the autopsy board at AIIMS.

The final report from the autopsy board on Pushkar's death was sent to police on December 29, which concluded that "Sunanda Pushkar was neither ill nor any disease prior to her death." The police report notes that Pushkar "was a normal healthy individual," ruling out a natural death and instead caused by poisoning.

"The poisoning is through oral route, however injectable route too also can’t be ruled out," says the report, citing the final autopsy letter from the AIIMS medical board. Police immediately registered a case of murder in Pushkar's death.

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