Preliminary investigations indicated Sunanda died of “hidden poisoning”.
New Delhi: A day after Sunanda Pushkar and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar had a spat on Twitter over the latter’s alleged affair with her husband and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, she was found dead in mysterious circumstances on January 17, 2014 in suite No. 345 of the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi. During the past four years, the high-profile case saw many twists and turns.
In the beginning, the police suspected it to be a case of suicide, but the possibility of drug overdose was not ruled out since she was undergoing treatment. The doctors who conducted an autopsy at AIIMS said it appeared to be a case of “sudden, unnatural death”, and mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on her hands and an abrasion on her cheek, suggesting a “use of blunt force”, besides a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of her left palm. Although “nominal traces” of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam were found, there were “no findings suggestive of drug overdose”.
But Sunanda’s doctors in Kerala, who had treated her days before her death, said that she had not been diagnosed with any life-threatening disease that could have caused her death.
The sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), who was heading inquest proceedings as the marriage was less than seven years old, said that Sunanda died of poisoning. In his report, the SDM had said Sunan-da could have died in “just three ways, homicidal, suicidal and accidental” and police should investigate further to ascertain the reason for her death.
Preliminary investigations indicated Sunanda died of “hidden poisoning”. Traces of two medicines, Alprazolam and Excedrin, had been found in her body. While Alprazolam is an anti-depressant, Excedrin is a painkiller — a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and sent to CFSL for further tests. On the very same day, the probe into her death was transferred to the Delhi police crime branch. However, two days later, the case was transferred back to Delhi police.
The case hit the headlines when an AIIMS doctor, Sudhir Gupta, who headed the panel that conducted Sunanda’s autopsy, claimed he was being pressurised to manipulate the report.