Shashi Tharoor (C) gestures after performing the last rites
for his wife Sunanda Puskhar at a cremation ground in New
Delhi. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
The death of an Indian government minister's wife has
been described as "sudden" and "unnatural" following an
autopsy, a day after she was found dead in a New Delhi hotel
room having earlier accused her husband of adultery.
Police have launched an inquest into the death of junior
human resource development minister Shashi Tharoor's wife.
Earlier in the week the wife, Sunanda Pushkar, had gone
public on Twitter saying she wanted to expose a "rip-roaring
affair" between her husband and a Pakistan-based journalist.
"It was sudden, unnatural death. There were certain injuries
on the body," Sudhir Gupta, the head of the forensic sciences
department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
said after an autopsy was conducted on the body.
He told reporters it would take a couple of days to determine
the precise cause of death.
The scandal could hardly come at a worse time for India's
ruling Congress party, as it prepares for an election due by
May. On Friday, the party announced 41-year-old Rahul Gandhi
would lead the Congress election campaign, in the hope that
charisma of a family that has supplied three prime ministers
would keep voters loyal.
Gandhi will struggle to restore his party's reputation,
damaged by allegations of corruption, while the main
opposition Hindu nationalist party appears resurgent after
its own change of leadership.
Television images showed Sunanda's young son from a previous
marriage hugging close relatives outside the morgue where her
Tharoor himself complained of chest pains early on Saturday
hours after he found his wife dead in her bed. He was taken
to hospital where doctors said his condition was stable. He
later left the hospital, his face drawn.
Sunanda, his wife of four years, had been embroiled this week
in a spat with the Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar,
whom she accused, in a series of Twitter posts, of pursuing
Sunanda, 52, said she had gone into her husband's Twitter
account and put out private messages that she said Tarar had
sent to her husband over Blackberry Messenger to expose their
Tarar denied any involvement with the Indian minister. The
scandal was splashed on the front pages of newspapers and
went viral on social media.
Tharoor is a a former U.N. diplomat and a prolific author
whose Twitter handle showed more than 2 million followers.
One of the most active users of the microblogging site in
government, he made no comment at the time his wife went
public with the allegations.
On Thursday, the couple issued a statement saying they were
distressed by the controversy caused by unauthorised use of
their Twitter accounts.
Tharoor, 57, married Sunanda in 2010, in a third marriage for
Earlier that year he had been forced to resign from his first
ministerial job after accusations linking him to a company
bidding for a cricket team in the lucrative Indian Premier
League from his home state of Kerala.
Sunanda had a stake in the company at the time.
Tharoor's aides said the couple had checked into the luxury
hotel this week because of renovation work at his Delhi
On Friday, he left the hotel room to attend a session of the
Congress party in the capital but returned late in the day to
find the door locked. His wife's body was found after the
door was forced open.
The Pakistani journalist Tarar said she was shocked by the
death. "Oh my God...," she wrote in a Twitter post. "This is
too awful for words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest
Tharoor has stirred controversy in the past by posting a
message that he would travel "cattle class" following reports
about his lavish lifestyle.