Sunanda Pushkar Died Of 'Unnatural' Causes: Delhi Police Commissioner

15/01/2016 3:51 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
MUMBAI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 11: (File photo) Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, wife of Indian politician Shashi Tharoor during the Second edition of sports memorabilia auction at The Trident, Nariman Point on February 11, 2012 in Mumbai, 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 Prodip Guha/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Sunanda Pushkar, late wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, died of 'unnatural' causes, confirmed a viscera report by the All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS). However, Pushkar did not die of radioactive poisoning, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said on Friday. He was referring to a report from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had examined some samples sent to them to check for polonium poisoning.

"What was told to us by that FBI was that the content of the samples had no radioactive materials," Bassi said. "The radioactive levels were found within the acceptable range, also certain other chemical compounds were found." The FBI has endorsed the AIIMS report which concluded that Pushkar had been poisoned, Sudhir Gupta, head of AIIMS Forensic Science department, told reporters. In fact, the FBI has added that a "dangerous chemical" was present in her body that may have killed her, PTI reported.

However, Bassi did not confirm this. "I have no knowledge on the mention of any dangerous chemical in the FBI report. The FBI report had said none of the samples contained any radioactive material," he said. "I can confirm there's no radiaoactive material but certain other findings are there. We had given the entire report to the medical board which has examined and gave us a report."

The police then sent the report — which is 11 pages long with a 32-page annexure — to the AIIMS board, who have assessed it. Special Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deepak Mishra is reviewing the progress in the case. Tharoor may be questioned again in the matter, according to police sources quoted in a CNN-IBN report.

Sunanda Pushkar, 51, was found dead at the Leela Hotel in New Delhi in January 2014. While it was initially considered a suicide, Delhi Police later registered a murder case in the matter. Pushkar's viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington in February last year after a panel of doctors from AIIMS said that the alleged 'poison' could not be detected in Indian labs.

sunanda pushkar

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor with his late wife Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor in April 2012.

Pushkar's death attracted a lot of conjecture, as she was involved in a very public spat just a day earlier with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on Twitter over the latter's alleged affair with Tharoor.

The FBI report has virtually ruled out the theory of 'polonium poisoning' having caused her death. However, after Delhi police failed to draw any conclusion on basis of the findings, the report was handed over to a medical board for examination before further proceedings in the high-profile case.

The investigators have so far conducted polygraph test on six persons, all prime witnesses in the case, including Tharoors' domestic help Narayan Singh, driver Bajrangi and Sanjay Dewan, a close friend of the couple. Tharoor has been questioned in the case.

(with agency inputs)

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