Sunanda Tharoor, the wife of Union minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in her room in a five-star hotel in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri. She was 52.
The death came two days after she tweeted that there was trouble in their marriage and that her husband was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist. Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, Sunanda had confirmed her tweets and said that she would “seek divorce”.
But the couple issued a statement on Thursday saying they are “happily married and intend to remain that way”. The statement also said “Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest”.
The cause of her death was not immediately known but police said they suspected Sunanda had committed suicide. They said there were no external injury marks on her body and the autopsy would be conducted Saturday.
Sunanda, it is learnt, had checked into a room at the Leela Palace hotel on Wednesday after she returned with Tharoor from Kerala. She is believed to have moved into a suite with Tharoor Thursday. She was last seen at around 3.30 pm Friday when she ordered lunch.
Police said her death was reported when Tharoor’s personal secretary Abhinav Kumar called up the SHO of Sarojini Nagar police station and informed him.
Sunanda is learnt to have fallen ill in Thiruvananthapuram and was treated at a leading hospital there for two days from Sunday. Hospital sources said she had been under treatment for the last one year for various problems and was due to return on January 20 for a detailed examination.
She checked into the hotel after returning from Kerala as Tharoor’s official residence was being renovated and Sunanda was allergic to dust, sources said. The couple was due to check out Saturday.
Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram and minister of state for human resources development, attended the AICC session and an event at a university Friday and returned to the hotel around 8 pm.
He entered the suite and sat in the drawing room while Sunanda was in the bedroom. He thought she was asleep when he first checked on her, sources said.
He found her lying motionless when he went to wake her up for dinner about an hour later. Doctors at the hotel examined her and found her body was in rigor mortis, causing them to suspect she had died some hours earlier, it is learnt.
“She was lying in bed. There were no signs of any foul play or any struggle… She had no sign of poisoning or anything,” the minister’s personal assistant Abhinav Kumar told reporters gathered outside the hotel, Reuters reported.
Police officers and a team of forensic experts reached the hotel and examined articles in the room and CCTV footage outside the room. Investigators have also asked the hotel staff to give them a list of the food Sunanda ordered through the day.
Special commissioner of police (law and order) Deepak Mishra said “post-mortem is awaited to ascertain the cause of death”.
Delhi Police has also requested social media site Twitter to give them access to Sunanda’s account.
Sunanda’s parents own a house in Jammu. On Friday, a servant said Sunanda’s father was living with his son in Patiala after Sunanda’s mother died nearly two years back.