India

Sunanda Pushkar: India MP Shashi Tharoor's wife 'was murdered'

Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor Image copyright AFP
Image caption The couple had denied problems in their marriage

Police in the Indian capital Delhi say that they are treating the death of the wife of former Indian minister Shashi Tharoor as murder, nearly a year after her body was found in a hotel room.

Sunanda Pushkar's death was "not natural and was due to poisoning," Delhi police chief BS Bassi said.

Initially, doctors said she might have died from an overdose of drugs.

Mr Tharoor, a Congress MP who married the former Dubai-based businesswoman in 2010, said he was stunned by the news.

"Needless to say I am anxious to see this case is investigated thoroughly and continue to assure the police of my full co-operation," he said in a statement.

"Although we never thought of any foul play in the death of my wife, we all want that a comprehensive investigation be conducted and that the unvarnished truth should come out."

Mr Bassi said the police had received a "final report" from the doctors saying that Ms Pushkar had been poisoned.

"The poison could have been administered orally or it could have been injected. To proceed further in this matter, we have decided to register a case of murder," he said.

Medical samples would be sent to foreign laboratories to find out out the "quantity of poison" found in Ms Pushkar's body.

It is, however, still not clear what poison is believed to have been given to Ms Pushkar, and how she could have taken it.

There is also no clarity over the motive of the alleged murder.

Asked why it had taken the police nearly a year to treat the death as murder, Mr Bassi said the doctors examining the evidence had sought "additional information" on more than one occasion, and police had provided that.

Twitter controversy

Ms Pushkar was found dead in a five-star hotel in Delhi on 17 January last year.

The couple had became embroiled in controversy over a series of Twitter messages before Ms Pushkar's death that appeared to reveal he was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist.

Ms Pushkar and Mr Tharoor later insisted they were happily married and blamed "unauthorised tweets" for causing confusion.

Mr Tharoor has repeatedly called for a swift investigation into the case.

In his statement on Tuesday he added: "I join all members of Sunanda's family in asking for full information about the basis on which the police have come to this conclusion.

"We have not been provided with copies of the post-mortem report and other reports of the inquiry... We repeat our request for a copy of these reports to be provided to us immediately."

A former UN diplomat, the MP was forced to resign from his first ministerial position in 2010 amid controversy over his involvement in bidding for a cricket team.

Ms Pushkar had allegedly received a free stake in the Indian Premier League franchise he was bidding for.

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