Sunanda Pushkar was poisoned and a murder probe had been opened in the case, Delhi Police said Tuesday, deepening the mystery over the death of Congress leader and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor's wife around a year ago.
The sensational case has made little headway after 51-year-old Pushkar was found dead in a room of a five-star hotel in Delhi on January 17, 2014, a day after a bitter Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar, who she accused of having an affair with Tharoor.
Police commissioner BS Bassi said a case of murder was registered on December 30 on the basis of the latest medical report from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
"They gave us their opinion which unequivocally suggested that the death is not natural. It is due to poisoning which could have been injected or given orally," the city's top police officer told HT.
"We have registered a case of murder," Bassi said. The case had been registered against unknown persons -- indicating the police have no suspects, so far.
The viscera would be sent abroad. “The quantum and type of poison will be sent abroad for analysis,” Bassi said.
Sources said Pushkar, who was an entrepreneur based in Dubai before she married Tharoor in 2010, had been taking medication for various illnesses and initial autopsy results suggested she may have overdosed on anti-depressants and sleeping pills.
Subsequently, a doctor who was part of the AIIMS team that did the post-mortem went public in July 2014 with claims that he was under pressure to show the death was "natural".
While the police said the case was registered on the basis of the latest AIIMS report, sources at the city's top medical institute said there was nothing new in the report and they had been saying all along that the death was "sudden and unnatural".
The police remained tight-lipped about the motive but said that the investigation would be monitored by the DCP (South). Investigating officials said that they would ask witnesses to join the probe again. The police are yet to ask Tharoor to join investigation.
"I am stunned to hear that the Delhi Police have filed a case of murder against unknown persons in the demise of my late wife Sunanda. Needless to say I am anxious to see this case is investigated thoroughly and continue to assure the Police of my full cooperation," Tharoor said in a Facebook post .
The Thiruvanathapuram MP was forced to quit his ministerial post in 2010 following allegations that Pushkar, his then-girlfriend, received a stake in the IPL cricket franchise he was pushing.
Party colleagues Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rashid Alvi, meanwhile, asked why it took police a year to register a murder case. "Let us maintain a sense of balance; this is a complaint/FIR against persons unknown. Not yet clear whether it's suicide or murder…," Singhvi said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was cautious. "This is a criminal matter and the police are investigating it. The law should be allowed to take its own course. We would only hope that the Congress does not try to politicise the matter," BJP's national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Sources said Tharoor was likely to be questioned in the case soon.
"We always knew that this was a case of murder; this decision was delayed," said Pushkar's cousin, Ashok Kumar.