Indian minister's wife in adultery row suffered 'unnatural' death: reports

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 January, 2014, 2:04am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:59am

The wife of Indian minister of state 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 said yesterday.

"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, said Sudhir Gupta, one of three doctors who performed the autopsy.

He added that Pushkar's body had "some physical injuries", but it was unclear whether they were related to her death.

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

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

Tharoor was admitted yesterday 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 said.

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

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

Tharoor quickly responded by saying his account was "hacked", but Pushkar told newspapers she sent the messages.

The Pakistani journalist whom Pushkar accused of "stalking" her husband strongly denied having a relationship with him.

Tharoor spent three decades in the UN, where he was beaten to the post of secretary general by Ban Ki-moon. He then quit the UN and entered Indian politics in 2008 as a member of Parliament for the ruling Congress party.

Tharoor's son, Ishaan, requested "that everyone please respect our family's privacy".