‘Shocked’ Indian minister urges swift inquiry into wife’s death


Union minister Shashi Tharoor during the cremation of his wife Sunanda Pushkar at Lodhi Road crematorium in New Delhi. Photo - PTI

New Delhi: Indian minister Shashi Tharoor, whose wife was found dead in a luxury hotel room, called on Sunday for a swift inquiry so the truth "can come out as soon as possible", an official said.

Tharoor wrote to the home minister on Sunday to pledge his full cooperation with investigations into his wife's death on Friday, after she exposed his alleged adultery with a Pakistani journalist on Twitter.

"Mr Tharoor has requested the home minister to expedite the inquiry so that the truth behind his wife's death can come out as soon as possible," Tharoor's private secretary Abhinav Kumar said.

"He is in a state of shock. He is anxious and keen to know the truth... what happened that day, no one can say."

Tharoor, the junior human resources development minister, found his wife Sunanda Pushkar dead in her five-star room in New Delhi on Friday evening after he returned from a party meeting.

The death was a tragic twist in a tale of apparent marital strife that has played out in full view of the public in India's newspapers and on social media.

A magistrate charged with investigating Pushkar's death is expected to record Tharoor's statement after he scatters his wife's ashes on Monday, Kumar said.

Tharoor will travel to the holy town of Haridwar for the ceremony after her body was cremated according to Hindu rites on Saturday in the capital, Kumar said.

Pushkar died an "unnatural, sudden death", said doctors who performed an autopsy on Saturday, adding that more tests were needed to determine the exact cause of her death.

Pushkar's body had "some physical injuries" but it was unclear whether they were related to her death, said Sudhir Gupta, one of three doctors who performed the autopsy.

Pushkar, 52, who was an entrepreneur based in Dubai before she married Tharoor in 2010, had been taking medications for various illnesses including tuberculosis, according to local media.

The final autopsy report was expected to be submitted to authorities on Monday, Gupta said.

Events began unfolding on Wednesday when curious messages appeared on the Twitter account of the thrice-married Tharoor, a former high-flying UN diplomat, novelist and government spokesman.

They showed private exchanges purportedly between the 57-year-old minister (@shashitharoor) and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar (@mehrtarar), in which she professed her love for him and he said his wife had discovered their relationship.

Tharoor quickly responded by saying his Twitter account had been hacked, but Pushkar told two newspapers that she was the author of the messages.

Seeking to draw a line under the Twitter row, Tharoor issued a statement on Thursday in which he blamed unauthorised tweets and distorted media reports for the "unseemly controversy".

The statement said the couple were "happily married".

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