Will Question Others Before Shashi Tharoor In Sunanda Pushkar Case: Delhi Police

10/01/2015 8:14 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 7: (File photo) Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor and Shashi Tharoor, External Affairs Minister, during a friendly cricket match between FICCI and Ministry of External Affair (MEA) at Modern School Barakhamba on March 7, 2010 in New Delhi, India. Sunanda Pushkar, the 52-year-old industrialist wife of Union HRD minister Shashi Tharoor was found dead on Friday at a seven-star hotel where the couple had checked in together a day earlier, the police said. News of her death emerged late in the evening, coming within two days of her Twitter spat with a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar, over an alleged affair with the minister. Pushkar, who has business interests in Dubai and was the Congress minister’s third wife, was found dead in the bedroom of The Leela Palace suite number 345 around 8.15pm. Mehr Tarar, a columnist with Pakistan’s Daily Times, reacted to the news of Pushkar’s death in two consecutive tweets: What the hell. Sunanda. Oh my God and I just woke up and read this. Im absolutely shocked. This is too awful for words. So tragic I dont know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda. (Photo by Ronjoy Gogoi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

After an intense week of speculation over the Delhi Police questioning Shashi Tharoor in his wife's murder case, investigators have said that they plan to speak with all other people connected to case before interrogating the lawmaker from Kerala.

Sunanda Pushkar, Tharoor's wife, was found dead in her hotel at the Leela Palace in Delhi on Jan. 17 after she publicly accused him of having an affair with a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.

"We have not called Tharoor for questioning as we do not need him at this moment. We would like to question all the other people in this connection including his aides, the hotel's staff among others. All the available evidences will also be gathered and it would be only after that we may question him," a senior police official told PTI on Saturday.

"This approach will help us pose those questions to him which would arise during questioning of all these people related with the case," the official said.

A mystery woman, Katy, figures in the list of the people the Delhi Police might summon for questioning in the murder case, the Times of India reported. The report said Katy was often the cause of fights between Sunanda and her husband Tharoor in Dubai and elsewhere.

The Delhi Police will be questioning about 15 people in connection with the death, including Katy whose name was mentioned by Tharoor’s domestic help Narain during police questioning. Her identity could not be confirmed. The TOI report late last night said an employee of the Leela Palace Hotel, who had quit soon after the incident, is also likely to be questioned.

Rakesh Sharma, a family friend, the report said, is on the list as well. Sharma took Narain from the hotel to Tharoor's house and apparently stopped him from disturbing Sunanda who Sharma said “was sleeping”, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Congress MP and former Union minister Tharoor said he was troubled with the conclusion arrived at during the investigation of his wife. He demanded an impartial and speedy investigation without any political pressure, IBNLive reported.

"I have been taken aback as there is no foul play in her passing away. I have been silent on this issue for the whole year. It is my duty to not undermine the enquiry," Tharoor said.

He said he has remained silent over the issue for a year as he wants to let the police to do their work. "I have been very silent the issue. We are very troubled by the conclusion. I have a number of questions on the kind of enquiry is going on. I have written to Police Commissioner on the whole issue," he said.

Delhi Police, which has registered a case of murder in the death of Sunanda Pushkar, is planning to question Mehr Tarar, the Pakistani journalist over whom she fought with her husband Shashi Tharoor before her mysterious death last year, PTI reported. A questionnaire is being prepared which will be sent to her via email and replies will be sought, police sources associated with the investigation said today.

"If they want to ask me anything...If they want to ask me any question whatsoever that they think...I can answer," 46-year-old Tarar told an Indian TV channel.

Sunanda had a visitor in her room at the Leela Hotel two days before her death and had fought with her husband through the night, according to a news report.

The Times of India claims to have accessed a statement made to Delhi police by the couple's domestic help Narayan Singh. The report says that Sunanda called Tharoor on the phone and told him he was finished, as she had made disclosures to the media. There was no indication of what she might have been referring to.

The report also said Singh told investigators that Pushkar had a visitor called Sunil and that he helped Pushkar copy some messages and tweet from her phone. A couple of days before her death, some personal tweets on Shashi Tharoor's timeline were presumably posted by her. The content of those tweets was messages sent to Tharoor from Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.

According to this report, Singh said Pushkar argued with Tharoor often, and once had a physical fight in Dubai where Tharoor's foot was injured. The day before she died, they had a long argument until early morning. Singh claims to have worked for Tharoor since October 22, 2010.

Tharoor is at an ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, for treatment related to problems in his shoulder. The Delhi police have said they are going to question him, and he might be in Delhi in a couple of days.

Delhi Police took its time, almost a year, to register a case of murder in connection with Pushkar's death. New details on the case have been emerging since that time, after investigators questioned Singh two days ago. A medical report had concluded last year that her death was unnatural and due to poisoning.

Pushkar had publicly accused Tharoor of infidelity and the resulting scandal had unfolded on Twitter after her tweets. The controversy was raging when she suddenly died last January at the age of 52. Tharoor, who in the past has been minister of state for external affairs and a top official at the United Nations, has maintained that Pushkar died of natural causes.

On Wednesday night, Tharoor's staff received a notice from police asking Singh to join the probe. "Narayan was in Himachal Pradesh. He came here today (Thursday) morning and left for the police station," a staff member at Tharoor's residence here told IANS. Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi said they had not sent any legal notice to Tharoor to join the probe yet.

Tharoor, in a letter to Bassi dated Nov 12, had accused the Delhi Police of trying to implaicate him and Singh in the murder of his wife. Tharoor said Delhi Police officers interrogated Singh for 16 hours Nov 7 and for 14 hours Nov 8.

The first FIR (first information report) in the death of 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.

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 her 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 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.

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