Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, the wife of India’s Minister of State for Human Resources Shashi Tharoor, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a city hotel room Friday night, stoking renewed speculation over their relationship barely 24 hours after the two declared they were “happily married” following public airing of tweets that hinted about an extra-marital relationship and alleged involvement of a Pakistani woman.
Sunanda Tharooor, 52, was found dead on a bed in suite 345 at The Leela Palace hotel in south Delhi. She is survived by Tharoor, 57, and her 21-year-old son.
She had checked into the hotel Thursday night with her husband.
According to police, between 8-8.30 p.m. Tharoor entered his hotel room no 345. He found that the main hall of the suite was open but her bedroom was locked from inside. Tharoor, who had attended the All Indian Congress Committee (AICC) session in the morning and a meeting in the evening in the suite, took the help of a “swipe card” to open the room, said police.
He called the hotel staff to open the room and found her lying on the bed. She was dressed in a nightgown and had a quilt over her. The minister’s aides called the police, who arrived at 9.15 p.m.
Tharoor’s aide, Abhinav Kumar, told the media that Pushkar was found dead at 8.30 p.m. and there was “no sign of foul play”.
Kumar said: “We will not be able to give you the definite cause of death. There was no sign of foul play, no poisoning.”
The couple had checked in to the hotel Thursday morning as their house was getting painted, said Kumar.
For Tharoor, a Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, and Pushkar it was their third marriage. Her son is from an earlier marriage.
On Thursday, Tharoor and Pushkar issued a joint statement saying they were distressed by an “unseemly controversy” over some “unauthorized tweets” posted from their Twitter accounts and that both were “happily married and intend to remain that way”.
The statement claimed that “distorted accounts” of comments “allegedly made by Sunanda”, alleging an affair between her husband and a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar had “led to some erroneous conclusions”.
“We wish to stress that we are happily married and intend to remain that way.”
Tarar, who had attacked Pushkar on twitter, expressed shock at the death.
“I am absolutely shocked,” Tarar said in a tweet. “This is too awful for words. So tragic, I don’t know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda.”
A magisterial enquiry is being conducted into Pushkar’s death as the marriage was not yet seven years old, police said.
Pushkar, who was not well, according to her own tweets, had got herself examined at the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS). In one of her last tweets Thursday, she posted in reply to a friend’s query about her illness: “I’ll try, got so many issues diagnosed in KIMS that now who knows when I got 2 go with joy Hastay hua jayegay.”
Ishaan Tharoor, the minister’s son, tweeted: “I would request that everyone please respect our family’s privacy at this moment.”
The twitter scandal erupted Wednesday after tweets posted on Tharoor’s account reportedly spoke of his love for Tarar, who denied she was having an affair with the Indian minister.
Pushkar accused Tarar of pursuing her husband and threatened to divorce Tharoor. The journalist denied the allegation, and publicly trashed Pushkar.
In an interview to Economic Times, Pushkar said in reaction to the twitter war: “I took upon myself the crimes of this man during IPL (Indian Premier League). I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can’t tolerate this. I have nothing more to say.”