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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Was Sunanda poisoned over a period of time?

Jatin Anand and Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 23, 2014
First Published: 00:27 IST(23/1/2014) | Last Updated: 14:50 IST(23/1/2014)

The Delhi Police have, for now, ruled out the possibility of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of union minister Shashi Tharoor, being “poisoned deliberately” but said they were ascertaining if she was poisoned over a period of time.

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Pushkar, 52, was found dead in a south Delhi luxury hotel on January 17. Ruling out homicide “at the moment”  — Pushkar’s visceral remains are yet to be conclusively analysed and the process can take a few months  —police officials probing the case told HT on Wednesday that her death could at the most be attributed to gradual, slow poisoning.

Though the SDM had on Tuesday asked the police to probe both the murder and suicide angles, Pushkar’s son Shiv Menon said she was “too strong” to commit suicide. Tharoor and his mother were “very much in love” and he didn’t believe that the minister was capable of harming her, the 21-year-old said in a statement on Wednesday.

She died due to an unfortunate combination of media stress, tensions and a wrong mix of different medication, Menon, Pushkar’s son from a previous marriage, said.

Had Pushkar been forced to consume poison, there would have been residual traces on her lips or trachea, a senior police officer told HT condition of anonymity. “However, no such traces were found. There are no syringe bumps which rules out poison being injected into the body,” the officer said.

A third party involvement was also not possible as the room from where the body was recovered was “undisturbed”, the officer said.

They were now ascertaining if Pushkar was poisoned gradually but would have to wait for the viscera report to identify the poison, the officer said.

“What remains to be seen is whether she was consuming a high dosage of alprazolam deliberately or was being administered huge doses by someone else without her knowledge,” he said. Almost 15 gms of alprazolam, which is used for treating anxiety and panic disorders, was found in Pushkar’s stomach during autopsy.

Strips of the drug were also found in her handbag. Though AIIMS authorities remain tight-lipped about the autopsy findings, source said the five-page report emphasised on more than a dozen external injuries on Pushkar’s body that appear to be scuffle marks.

The report, said sources, attribute poisoning as the cause of death.


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