The ghost of Sunanda Pushkar is back to haunt her husband, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, after Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi on Friday dispelled every shade of doubt about the cause of her death, saying she died of poisoning. Bassi was talking to reporters after the Delhi police received the All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS) medical board’s ‘advice’ on the FBI lab report on viscera samples of Sunanda Pushkar.
“The current investigation of the final viscera report submitted to the Delhi Police states that Sunanda Pushkar did not die a natural death… that is for certain. It was an unnatural death,” Bassi told reporters here.
“It will take time before we go through the entire report as it also has several annexures. Once we go through the entire report, we will take the necessary steps,” he said.
Commenting on the FBI report, Bassi said: “None of the samples contained radio-active elements, according to the FBI.” Asked if Tharoor will be interrogated over the issue again, Bassi said the Delhi Police will take all the necessary steps required in the case.
Sunanda was found dead inside a five-star hotel suite in Delhi on January 2014. Two days before her death she went on a Twitter offensive against Tharoor, continuously accusing him of “cheating” her and having an affair with Mehr Tarar, a Pakistani journalist. Sunanda also said Mehr was an ISI agent. She also claimed she had shouldered Tharoor’s sin in the Indian Premier League (IPL) scandal and would soon expose it.
Incidentally, Sunanda had received sweat equity of Rs.70 cr ($10.39 million) in IPL franchise Rendezvous Sports World, which bid for Kochi Tuskers Kerala. Tharoor was forced to resign from the Union Cabinet in 2010 after he faced allegations that the sweat money his wife received was kickback to him.
The Delhi police have thrice questioned Tharoor in this case. Tharoor is seen as a suspect because of the ugly spat he had with his wife before her mysterious death. Postmortem had revealed there were numerous cut marks on her body and it was suspected to be a case of poisoning.
After medical board of the AIIMS could not identify the poison used to kill her, the police sent her viscera samples to the FBI lab in Washington DC in February last year to determine the poison. The AIIMS forensic head Sudhir Gupta had said that Polonium-210 or Po-210 might have been used to kill Sunanda Pushkar. Po-210 is a rare and highly radioactive isotope that is extremely hard to detect.
Did Sunanda commit suicide under stress? Under the circumstances this would have looked a certain probability had she not spoken to four different journalists and promised them stories to expose the IPL scandal. Few would believe that a person determined to settle scores with her tormentors was going to end her life and make them rejoice at her funeral.
And even if she committed suicide by talking an overdose of drugs, Tharoor still may face prosecution for the act of abetment. But if it is established that she was indeed murdered, then Tharoor may be in far more trouble.
The FBI report, which ruled out the theory of ‘polonium poisoning’, was sent to a medical board for examination. The Board finally gave its findings to the Delhi police on Friday.
According to the report, Sunanda died of overdose of anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam. It is not clear if she herself took that overdose or administered it.
In addition to interrogating Tharoor, the police have 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.
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