Even as the mystery over Sunanda Pushkar’s death continues, the controversy surrounding her autopsy report got murkier with husband Shashi Tharoor demanding a ‘definitive’ conclusion in the case.
Here is a timeline of the events that unfolded since Pushkar’s death:
January 17, 2014: Sunanda Pushkar, wife of former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, found dead under mysterious circumstances in suite no 345 of Hotel Leela Palace in New Delhi. While police suspected she might have committed suicide, the possibility of medicine overdose was not ruled out since Pushkar was undergoing medical treatment. Inquest proceedings under Section 174 CrPC were initiated in the Sunanda case according to which a sub-divisional magistrate inquires into the death of a woman if she dies within seven years of her marriage.
January 19: The doctors who conducted postmortem on Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor at AIIMS said it appeared to be a case of “sudden, unnatural death”, and that she had “certain injuries on the body”. The autopsy report of Sunanda was learnt to have said that she died due to “poisoning” and neither confirmed nor ruled out suicide. The autopsy board included two other doctors, additional professor of forensic medicine Dr Adarsh Kumar and a senior resident in the department, Dr Shashank Puniya. The autopsy report had mentioned more than a dozen injury marks on Sunanda’s hands and an abrasion on her cheek which suggests a “use of blunt force”, besides a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of her left palm. Although “nominal traces” of the anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam were found, there were “no findings suggestive of drug overdose”.
January 19: Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), where Sunanda Tharoor had undergone treatment from January 12 to 14, said that she was not diagnosed with any life-threatening disease. KIMS Hospital director and cardiologist Dr G Vijayaraghavan said Pushkar was not diagnosed with any serious medical condition that could cause immediate death.
January 21: The subdivisional magistrate (SDM) who was heading the inquest said that Sunanda died of poisoning. In his report, the SDM has said that Sunanda has died of poisoning and has asked police to probe the cause of poisoning. Alok Sharma, the SDM has also asked the police to specifically probe the murder/suicide angle. The SDM, in his report, had said Sunanda could have died in “just three ways, homicidal, suicidal and accidental” and police should investigate further to ascertain the reason of her death. The SDM said under section 176 of CrPC his job was to determine cause of the death which has been established as poisoning.
January 23: Investigators were believed to have found that she died of “hidden poisoning”. Traces of two medicines, Alprazolam and Excedrin, had been found in her body. While Alprazolam is an anti-depressant, Excedrin is a painkiller — a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Viscera samples were preserved after the autopsy at AIIMS and sent to CFSL for further tests.
January 23: The probe into the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar was transferred to the elite Crime Branch of Delhi Police, a week after she was found dead in a luxury hotel. The high-profile case was handed over to Crime Branch considering “various aspects” involving it.
July 01: The doctor, who headed the panel that conducted the post mortem on Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar at AIIMS, filed an affidavit before Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), contesting an order to remove him from the post of head of forensic medicine. He alleged bias against him for “not bowing” to pressure from “top officials of the institute and then senior Congress ministers” while making Pushkar’s post mortem report.
July 02: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan pulled up the AIIMS director over the controversy concerning the death of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar. The Health Minister sought a detailed report on the specific allegations levelled by a doctor, who headed the panel that conducted the post-mortem on Sunanda Pushkar.
July 02: Sunanda Pushkar’s husband and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor demanded a “clear and definitive conclusion” to the case. In a statement on Facebook, the Congress leader asserted that he had been, since the beginning, demanding thorough, rapid and transparent investigation into the case, adding that he had cooperated with the authorities fully.
July 02: With a senior AIIMS forensic doctor reportedly alleging that he was pressurised to manipulate the autopsy report of Sunanda Pushkar, Delhi Police said it will “examine” him and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor if needed.