The sudden death of Sunanda Pushkar a year ago has stirred controversy again with Delhi Police changing the case from suicide to murder in view of new evidence that will be sent to the US or UK for confirmation over traces of poison.
But the case has taken too many twists and turns as the woman was wife of the former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, and just two days before her death revealed to the world her status as an estranged wife of a minister whose ties with a Pakistani woman journalist were made open to the world.
Both Tharoor and Sunanda were mired in controversy since he lost the race to be the UN General Secretary and returned home to become a politician and Minister of State for External Affairs. Here is a timeline or chronology of events involving the couple:
April, 2010: Tharoor and Sunanda were caught by media dating each other and soon IPL chief Lalit Modi revealed that Sunanda Pushkar had equity stake in Rendezvous Sports World (RSW), a consortium that owned the Kochi IPL team. On April 19, Tharoor had resigned as minister and married Sunanda in less than a month thereafter.
January 16, 2014: Tharoor was made the HRD Minister of State in October 2012 and it was in Jan 2014 that his estranged wife Sunanda made it open to the world by sending tweets from his account alleging ties with a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. Initially Tharoor claimed their Twitter accounts were hacked but Sunanda on January 16 claimed: “Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets. I cannot tolerate this. This is a Pakistani woman who is an ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) agent, and she is stalking my husband.” Soon a joint statement followed saying “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 rest. We would be grateful if the media respects our privacy.” On her part, Mehr Tarar claimed that Sunanda was “imagining things.”
January 17, 2014: Sunanda was found dead in Hotel Leela Palace room, while Tharoor was away to attend an all-day Congress meeting elsewhere in Delhi. Doctors, who had treated Sunanda days before her death, confirmed that she had no life-threatening disease.
January 21, 2014: An autopsy report conducted by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate found that Sunanda Pushkar had died of poisoning. The case was taken over by CBI, which sought further forensic tests to determine the cause of death.
July, 2014: A team of three AAIMS doctors, headed by Dr Sudhir Gupta, alleged that they were pressured into giving a ‘tailor-made’ autopsy report in the case.
October, 2014: Another postmortem report by AIIMS said that it was a “sudden, unnatural death” with “certain injuries in her body.” The report also overruled several previous findings that claimed Sunanda was not suffering from any ailments and that she was healthy and had no disease of heart, kidney, liver or lung.
October 10, 2014: AIIMS team claimed that Sunanda died due to “poisoning,” and it was seconded by Sunanda’s cousin Ashok Kumar, who reiterated his claim that her death was not natural, and sought a CBI probe.
November, 2014: BJP Leader Subramanian Swamy, the man who succeeded to put many politicians behind bars, entered the scene and tweeted: “When will Delhi Police release the telephone transcript of Tharoor’s Secy informing him at 4.30 pm of Sunanda being “terminated”? Why imp?” Swami expressed doubt on Sunanda’s death by connecting it with her threat to disclose “money-laundering” in the IPL and he too joined the demand for a CBI probe in the matter.
January 6, 2015: Despite Tharoor’s friendly gestures from within the opposition Congress camp such as endorsing the PM’s Swachh Bharat campaign and praising Narendra Modi on bringing ancient glory of Indian science, Delhi Police went ahead and registered the case as murder and said it would pursue questioning Tharoor soon. A day later, Delhi Police said that the viscera samples will be send to a foreign laboratory to identify the poison that caused her death.