The head of forensic medicine at AIIMS has questioned the investigation into the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar, hinting at a botch-up by Delhi Police. Dr Sudhir Gupta, who headed a three-member autopsy panel, told HT on Friday 54 units of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam – popularly known as Alprax -- were found in the body of Pushkar alongwith lidocaine and insulin.
“If the investigation had proceeded on the report we submitted on January 21, 2014, the case would have been solved within a week,” he said.
“The 27 tablets in her system were of 0.5mg, which is double the usual strength. It is a prescription drug and is not easily available and that too in such large quantity,” Dr Gupta said. “There was also an injection mark on her body and the investigators should have figured how was it given.”
Alprazolam, a habit-forming drug, is usually prescribed in a milder --.25 mg – dose.
The forensic head also questioned the rationale behind sending the samples to a Federal Bureau of Investigation lab in the US for further analysis.
“What we had found and mentioned in our first report was sufficient for the investigation and has also been corroborated by the FBI lab. Also, the unnecessary delay in sending the viscera samples to the US had degraded its quality,” the doctor said.
Wife of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, Pushkar, 51, was found dead in a south Delhi five-star hotel on January 17, 2014. A day earlier Pushkar had a Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over her alleged affair with Tharoor.
The AIIMS board had identified poisoning as the reason for her death, following which the viscera samples were sent to an FBI lab in Washington last year.
In its 11-page report, FBI said it found traces of an anti-anxiety drug, corroborating AIIMS’ findings. Besides traces of Alprax, the FBI lab also found an anesthetic drug ‘Lidocaine Gel’, used to relieve itching, burning and pain due to skin inflammation.