New Delhi, January 9, 2015
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday the investigation into his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death a little under a year ago, which is now being treated as a case of murder by the Delhi Police, must be conducted without any "predetermined outcome or political pressure".
Sunanda probe must be without predetermined outcome: Tharoor
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor today said the investigation into his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death a little under a year ago, which is now being treated as a case of murder by the Delhi Police, must be conducted without any "predetermined outcome or political pressure".
Breaking his silence on the issue, Mr Tharoor told mediapersons at an Ayurveda health resort in Guruvayur in Kerala that he had yesterday written a detailed letter to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi raising several questions and voicing concern about the manner in which the investigation had been conducted so far.
He said he hoped the letter would receive Mr Bassi's personal attention and that he would discuss the concerns he had raised with the team of investigating officials.
Mr Tharoor's brief interaction with the media, at which he did not take any questions, came three days after the Delhi Police said that it was treating Ms Pushkar's death as a case of murder after the medical board had, in its final report, said that she had died of poisoning.
Nobody has been named as a suspect in the case, which has been filed against unknown persons at the Sarojini Nagar Police Station here.
Mr Tharoor, 58, is currently a member of the Lok Sabha, representing the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala.
Ms Pushkar, 52, was found dead, lying on a bed in room 345 of the Hotel Leela Palace in the Chanakyapuri area of the capital around 2030 hours of January 17 last year.
Mr Bassi had said the final report of the medical board set up by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), received by the Delhi Police on December 29, had stated that she had not died of natural causes.
"She died due to poisoning. Whether the poison was given orally or injected is being investigated," he said.
He said the filing of the case, under section 302 of would facilitate further investigation into her death. He said the quantum of poison administered had not been ascertained yet and samples of her viscera would have to be sent to laboratories abroad for this. The substance has also not been identified yet.
Reacting to the development, Mr Tharoor had said on Tuesday that he was stunned to hear the Delhi Police had filed a case of murder against unknown persons in the demise of his wife.
At today's press conference, he again said that he was taken aback by the filing of the first information report (FIR) under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deals with murder.
He said no one in the family had any reason to believe that Ms Pushkar had been the victim of foul play. "Every one loved her deeply. There is no question of any one with access to her harming her in any way," he said.
Mr Tharoor said his silence over the past few days had been described as "sinister" by the media but pointed out that he had been silent on the issue for close to a year now. This was because he did not wish to undermine or compromise the police investigations into her death by anything that he said.
He said he did not wish to join public debates on television for TRPs. He said he had lost his wife and had not been allowed to mourn in peace because of the media coverage over his wife's death, much of which he alleged was based on misinformation and sometimes outright lies.
He said he had, right at the outset, pledged complete cooperation by himself and his staff to help the police establish the case and would continue to cooperate with the police in this matter.
Mr Tharoor said that it was largely due to such pressures that he had visited the health resort for treatment some months ago, when doctors there had advised him to go through a full two-week course.
That course ended today. "I came here as scheduled and am leaving today as scheduled," he said, clarifying that his presence at the resort had nothing to do with the filing of the FIR by the Delhi Police.
Hoping that the police would investigate the case in a professional manner and that it would bring closure in the matter, he said, "I hope Sunanda, her family and I get justice in this case."
Ms Pushkar's death on January 17 last year came just a day after a very unseemly and public controversy on micro-blogging site Twitter that involved her and her husband and a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.
The controversy arose out of Ms Pushkar's suspicion that Mr Tharoor was involved in an affair with Ms Tarar, an allegation that that the Pakistani journalist denied.
Mr Tharoor and Ms Pushkar put out a joint statement asserting that they were "happily married" and intended to "remain that way".
"We are distressed by the unseemly controversy that has arisen about some unauthorised tweets from our Twitter accounts," the Tharoors had said in their statement.
"Various distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda have appeared in the press. It appears that some personal and private comments responding to these unauthorised tweets -- comments that were not intended for publication -- have been misrepresented and led to some erroneous conclusions.
"We wish to stress that we are happily married and intend to remain that way. Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest. We would be grateful if the media respects our privacy," the statement, posted on Mr Tharoor's Facebook page on the day before her death, had said.
Mr Tharoor's aide told journalists outside the hotel that the then Minister had returned to the suite that evening, after attending the day-long All India Congress Committee (AICC) session at Talkatora Stadium and another event, when he discovered that his wife had died.
According to the aide, Mr Tharoor initially thought his wife was resting, but he realised something was amiss a little later and then his staff informed the police, which rushed a team immediately.
The aide said that Ms Pushkar, who was unwell, and Mr Tharoor had checked into the hotel the previous morning because of some repairs and renovation work being carried out in their house.
Since the couple had been married for less than seven years, a sub-divisional magistrate had inquired into the death under Section 176 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Police procedures had begun after that.
Ms Pushkar used to work as a sales director in a Dubai firm before she got married to Mr Tharoor.
Born on January 1, 1962, Ms Pushkar was divorced from her first husband, Sanjay Raina. Her second husband Sujith Menon died in a road accident in 1997. She had a son, Shiv Menon, from that marriage. It was Mr Tharoor's third marriage, too.
A day after the police filed its FIR in the case, details emerged of a letter that Mr Tharoor had written to Mr Bassi in November last year, alleging that police officials had, while interrogating his domestic helper Narayan Singh as part of its investigations into Ms Pushkar's death, physically assaulted him and tried to force him into framing his employer in the case.
"The officer used the traumatic physical assault to try and intimidate Narayan into confessing that he and I murdered my wife," Mr Tharoor wrote in the letter dated November 12.
Mr Tharoor said in the letter that he had written it to put on record his conversation over the telephone with Mr Bassi three days earlier.
"As you graciously agreed, such conduct is completely unacceptable and illegal. It also amounts to the use of physical coercion in the attempt to frame an innocent man. I would request you to take immediate and appropriate action against such unlawful misconduct of the officer concerned," the letter said.
He said he and his staff had always made themselves available for any kind of inqiry and investigation but the behaviour of the officers towards his staff was a matter of serious concern to a law-abiding citizen.
According to him, four Delhi Police officers had questioned Narayan Singh for 16 hours on November 7 and for 14 hours on the next day. He alleged that on both days one of the officers had repeatedly physically assaulted Narayan Singh.
"Worse, that officer used the traumatic physical assault to try and intimidate Narayan into 'confessing' that he and I murdered my wife," Mr Tharoor said.
"Please look into the matter personally and ensure that the unvarnished truth comes out in this case. My family and I are eagerly waiting to see the outcome of the inquiry conducted by the Delhi Police," he said.
He expressed his "complete trust and faith" in Delhi Police under Mr Bassi's leadership and that he was committed to "fully cooperating with the investigations to ensure the timely completion of the inquiry".
Narayan Singh was interrogated for several hours by the police yesterday.
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