Media agog as Sashi Tharoor’s wife dies after Twitter battle

18 Jan 2014


Speculation is rife about the cause of death of Sunanda Pushkar, the 52-year-old wife of union minister of state for human resource development Sashi Tharoor, as India's depressingly slow post-mortem system has barely started its investigation.

Pushkar was found dead in a luxurious suite of the Leela Hotel in New Delhi by her husband when he returned from the All India Congress Committee meeting which virtually anointed Rahul Gandhi as its candidate for prime minister.

The incident dragged media attention away from the AICC event, as Tharoor is perhaps the most high-profile junior minister in Indian history, and his wife was equally well known in political and socialite circles.

Moreover, her death came just about 48 hours after she started a Twitter controversy about her husband's relationship with 45-year-old Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. Subsequently, Tharoor and Pushkar jointly said they were very much together and their marriage faced no threat; but Pushkar sending messages about Tarar using Tharoor's Twitter account remains controversial.

There is no suspicion of murder, as the door of the suite was locked from inside and had to be broken down. Both Tharoor and his driver were grilled by the police.

Subsequently Tharoor (45) was admitted to hospital when he complained of chest pain, but was discharged this morning.

On Wednesday night, Sunanda sent a barrage of tweets from Shashi Tharoor's Twitter handle where she accused Mehr Tarar of stalking her husband. The bizarre Twitter barrage prompted Tharoor, 57 who has over 20 lakh followers, to tweet that his account was hacked and was being temporarily taken down.

The Pushkar versus Tarar virtual war spilled over into the next morning with Pushkar repeatedly accusing Tarar of being an ISI agent. The Tharoors issued a joint statement a day later to say that they were 'happily married' and intended to stay that way.

All indications show that Pushkar was not deliberately suicidal, but she was taking several pills apart from drinking and smoking.

Meanwhile, a team of three pathologists at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences began the post mortem late this morning, and the hospital said the results should be out by evening.

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