Sunanda Pushkar's death: SIT to probe case, may quiz Tharoor

  • HT Correspondent and Agencies, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 07, 2015 21:12 IST

A Special Investigation Team will probe the murder of Sunanda Pushkar, while her husband Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP and former Union minister, could be questioned again, Delhi Police chief BS Bassi said on Wednesday.

"The special team which was formed to investigate the murder is looking into each and every possibility of the case and whatever is
needed will be done," police commissioner Bassi told the media.

On being asked whether Tharoor could also be questioned, Bassi said: "We will do, if needed."

Asked why a case of murder was registered almost a year after her death, Bassi said the final medical report from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) warranted an FIR to be filed so that Sunanda's viscera samples can be sent abroad for further tests.

Delhi Police had on Tuesday registered a murder case under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of the AIIMS medical report which concluded that her death was unnatural and due to poisoning, but nobody has been named as a suspect as yet. No one has been named in the FIR too.

Sunanda was found dead in a room of a five-star hotel in New Delhi on January 17, 2014.

No ailments

PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying that a Delhi Police team visited a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on December 2 last year where Sunanda was admitted days before she was found dead.

"The team met the doctors who had treated Pushkar and questioned them about the ailment she was admitted there for and asked them to share her medical records," said a senior police official.

Pushkar was admitted to Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences last year between January 12-14. She was found dead three days later.

Her family had said that she was suffering from lupus and was taking heavy medication. However, AIIMS doctors said she was not suffering from lupus and that she was a healthy individual.

The AIIMS medical board had, in its second report submitted to police on September 30, said that her brain, kidney, lungs and liver were functioning normally and that her death was caused by poisoning.

The 12-page "Subsequent Medical Board Opinion" had said, "The cause of death in this case is poisoning. Viscera are positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine."

From the medical documents made available to them, the panel has also concluded that Sunanda did not have cardiac problem. She was not suffering from any diseases like hypertension, diabetes or tuberculosis.

The panel concluded that Sunanda was neither ill nor had any disease prior to her death. She was a normal healthy individual, the AIIMS report given to Delhi Police in September said.

The medical board had examined all the injuries on her body out of which 'injury number 10' was termed as a mark caused by the needle of a syringe. The reports mentioned 12 injury marks on Sunanda's body, including the injection mark on her hand and a teeth bite.

The team also dismissed the theory that Sunanda died of an overdose of Alprazolam as the viscera report was negative for the presence of the substance.

"None of the treatment documents of Sunanda Pushkar has mentioned prescription of Tablet Alprax which was found at the scene of death. Two used Alprax strips of capacity 15 tablets each were recovered from the spot. However, viscera report is negative for presence of Alprazolam," the report had said.

Doctors from the medical board had visited the crime spot (suite of the five-star hotel) in the first week of November again along with police officials where they examined the room and lifted samples.

After analysing it, they submitted the third and final report in the case on December 29 last year.

The SIT is likely to question Tharoor, his relatives and personal staff along with the employees of the five-star hotel where she was found dead, PTI added.

It will also examine the hotel doctor who declared Sunanda dead and go through CCTV footage of the hotel. The forensic report of Sunanda's mobile phones and laptop which were sent for tests will also be evaluated.

New twists

In a new twist to the case, head of the department of forensic medicine and toxicology at AIIMS has denied using the word 'homicidal' in the report sent to the Delhi Police.

"We have only said death was due to poisoning," Dr Sudhir Gupta told NDTV.

On being repeatedly asked whether his report mentions the word 'homicide' or 'homicidal', he said "That is for the police to decide. How
can I say that?"

Firstpost quoted an unnamed doctor in the AIIMS forensic department as saying that Sunanda's death was due to "intake of acetaminophen (a paracetamol) with alcohol" and not because of any exotic poison.

"Traces of acetaminophen, caffeine, cotinine (an alkaloid found in tobacco) and ethyl alcohol were found in her body during the analysis of viscera and toxicology reports. The toxicity of this drug increased with the ingestion of this drug with alcohol," he told the news portal.

He said the administration could be suicidal as well as homicidal and it was up to the police to come with the truth.

When asked about the poisons/chemicals (nerium oleander, snake venom, heroin, polonium 210 and thallium) listed by the AIIMS medical team headed by Dr Sudhir Gupta as the probable cause of death in the "conclusive" report that "cannot be tested in India", he said "It is politically motivated and aims at giving the investigation a new twist."

PTI had reported that investigators may send her viscera samples to a laboratory either in Britain or the United States to identify the poison.

Police want to confirm if the poison was radioactive isotopes that cannot be detected in Indian laboratories. Polonium 210, a radioactive isotope, is suspected to be the poison that may have caused her death.

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