Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a New Delhi hotel late on Friday evening.
The police said they were informed of Ms. Pushkar’s death by Dr. Tharoor’s personal staff, but offered no further details stating that the cause of death would be established only by post-mortem. Forensic sources said rigor mortis had set in, suggesting Ms. Pushkar passed away in the afternoon.
Highly-placed police sources said an inquiry into the cause of Ms. Pushkar’s death had been initiated by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate under Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code as the couple had been married for less than seven years.
“Under the SDM’s supervision, statements of the witnesses, including Dr. Tharoor’s, will be recorded and the post-mortem conducted. The SDM will send his inquiry report and on that basis, we will decide the further course of action,” a senior police officer said and added that the hotel’s CCTV records would also be examined.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Dr. Tharoor and offered his condolences.
Ms. Pushkar, police sources said, had been staying in Room 345 of the upmarket Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave since Thursday evening, having arrived there after treatment for an undisclosed illness at the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS). The police said they got a call from the hotel informing them that Ms. Pushkar was lying dead inside her room.
In a tweet sent out on Friday morning, Ms. Pushkar had written: “So many issues diagnosed in KIMS that now who knows, when I got 2 go with joy, hastay hua jayegay [I’ll go laughing]”.
Dr. Tharoor’s personal aide Abhinav Kumar told journalists that the Minister had left the hotel room early on Friday morning to attend the All-India Congress Committee session.
The couple, he said, was staying in the hotel because their home was being fumigated. Dr. Tharoor returned from the AICC session around 8.15 p.m., Mr Kumar said, but remained in an anteroom for some time.
He entered the bedroom when it was time to leave for another engagement and found his wife lying on the bed with a quilt on. When she did not respond, Dr. Tharoor alerted the hotel staff, who called in a doctor. The matter was reported to the police around 9 p.m.
Teams from Delhi’s Forensic Science Laboratory and the police were searching the hotel room till late on Friday night.
Pakistani journalist, Tharoor’s son react on Twitter
@MehrTarar What the hell. Sunanda. Oh my God... just woke up and read this. I'm absolutely shocked. This is too awfulfor words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda
@ishaantharoor I would request that everyone please respect our family's privacy at this moment