Sunanda Pushkar’s Death: A Case With Long Ghost Hands

If at all Dr Gupta’s claims stand true, they open a Pandora’s box. Tharoor, then, must be questioned over hiding the fact of his wife’s death and the case must come to its natural conclusion soon.

The doctor, who conducted the autopsy on the body of late Sunanda Pushkar, wife of former union minister Shashi Tharoor, has claimed that he was pressurized by the “authorities” to manipulate the autopsy report.

Dr Sudhir Gupta, head of forensic sciences at AIIMS, has filed an affidavit in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) claiming that he was ‘pressured’ by former Union minister and president of AIIMS, Ghulam Nabi Azad, to act in an ‘unprofessional’ manner to cover up the matter.

“(The) applicant could not muster courage of openly placing the facts in black and white as the former president of AIIMS Ghulam Nabi Azad was an immensely powerful politician and the then health minister, and the husband of late Sunanda Pushkar was also a minister and a powerful politician,” the affidavit stated.

While the circumstances in which Dr Gupta has revealed this piece of information in front of CAT maybe debatable, there is a little element of surprise in the news. The reason is simple: Pushkar had given a clear warning to everyone before her death.

The death of Pushkar was sudden and mysterious. When the report of her death early morning on January 17 flashed on the television channels, the couple was courting a huge controversy.

She had allegedly caught hubby Tharoor cheating on her with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar red-handed. She had tweeted from the handle of Tharoor which the latter had passed as a hacking attempt by someone. Later, Pushkar had accepted that she herself was tweeting from Tharoor’s handle and had categorically told the Economic Times:

“Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets. I cannot tolerate this. This is a Pakistani woman who is an ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) agent, and she is stalking my husband. And you know how men are. He is flattered by the attention. I took upon myself the crimes of this man during IPL (Indian Premier League). I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can’t tolerate this. I have nothing more to say.”

However, there was a stark difference in her statements to different channels and newspapers. While to the Indian Express, Pushkar had said she would “seek divorce” from Tharoor, she had denied the charges on NDTV and had said that she had “no intention at the moment to leave her husband”, whom she termed a “happily married man”.

To CNN-IBN, she had said that it was Mehr who was stalking her husband and hacking into his account. “There is a girl called Mehr who is hacking into Tharoor’s computer, my computer, she is obsessed with this man. She is an ISI agent. We are not having any problem. We have a hacker, a Pakistani ISI agent,” Pushkar had told CNN-IBN.

“This is a serious issue I am going to have her behind bars. This is a national emergency. I am going to go to Indian consulate, Pakistan consulate. She is an ISI agent planted here in India, she came and interviewed my husband in April and is stalking him. I have heard from Pakistani sources that she is an ISI agent,” she had said.

The spat had grown big between the husband and wife where the latter was determined to spill all the secrets. Pushkar had left her home and shifted to a five star hotel – the same day when AICC was holding session in Delhi. Tharoor too joined her after a day. Later, Pushkar was found dead in the same hotel room the following day.

Her body was sent for post mortem to AIIMS where it was declared that Pushkar committed suicide and died an “unnatural death’ due to “overdose of sleeping pills”. But it was not ascertained whether she herself took the pills or it was forcefully administered to her.

The mystery of her death deepened when more details came on various channels and an investigation was opened as the Tharoor-Pushkar marriage was less than seven years old. Investigators had pointed out at that time that Pushkar’s body had 12 injury marks including a bite mark on her hand. However, the injuries were not life-threatening but raised questions as to whether she was physically assaulted before her death.

Interestingly, no instance of physical abuse was corroborated in the autopsy report even when Pushkar’s staffer Narayanan had claimed in his statement to Police that an abusive physical fight took place between the couple a day before her death. He had claimed that Tharoor slept outside the room after 12:30 AM following the fight.

The staffer at the five star hotel had also claimed that Pushkar had reached the hotel quite distressed and she was constantly crying. She had taken a room and was later moved to a suite when Tharoor joined her the day after.

Before her death, Pushkar had contacted a bunch of media personalities telling them that she would give them detailed interview regarding her husband and the IPL connection (there was a huge IPL controversy that the couple had faced earlier). This news was confirmed by senior journalist Nalini Singh and Headlines Today Editor Rahul Kanwal too.

She was constantly on twitter replying to the queries of general public and promising to spill the beans about ISI connection in the IPL and frauds related to it. Her last tweet was posted at 5:30 AM on the day of her death.

Various pictures of Pushkar’s body bearing marks of serious bruises was circulated on the media and questioned by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. Dr Gupta’s revelations have given strength to the conspiracy theories and question Tharoor’s conduct in the whole episode.

While union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has demanded all the relevant documents for his perusal, Tharoor took to Facebook. Tharoor issued a statement on Facebook saying he has cooperated with the authorities from the beginning and asked them to bring the probe into the death of his wife to a definite conclusion.

“Upon the tragic loss of my wife Sunanda and from the very beginning, I have requested for a thorough investigation by the authorities to be conducted and concluded rapidly and transparently,” he posted.

“The Pushkar family has taken the same view and we have all fully co-operated with the authorities. I reiterate my request to bring this protracted inquiry to a clear and definitive conclusion at the earliest, so as to put all speculation to rest.”

Given the grave mystery over Pushkar’s death and given its connection to very sensitive issues which may lead us to terrorist links in the IPL, the government must hand over the case to a responsible investigative agency.

If at all Dr Gupta’s claims stand true, they open a Pandora’s box.

Tharoor, then, must be questioned over hiding the fact of his wife’s death and the case must come to its natural conclusion soon.

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