New Delhi: Who killed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar?
The police do not have a categorical answer to the question even a year after the mysterious incident that took place in a five star hotel here. But they hope to make a significant breakthrough in the high-profile case following the polygraph test to be conducted on three prime witnesses – the Tharoors’ driver Bajrangi, domestic help Narain Singh and family friend Sanjay Dewan.
While seeking permission on Wednesday to subject the trio to the lie-detection test, the Special Investigation Team of the city police told a Delhi court that three suspects did not disclose “material facts” during questioning. After listening both sides, Metropolitan Magistrate Sunil Kumar Sharma asked investigators to go ahead.
The police, say the sources close to the development, expect them to open a Pandora Box. “All of them have already been questioned more than once. But there are contradictions in the statements made by Tharoor and the one by others. Narain and Bajrangi were asked to disclose how the injury marks appeared on the body, why there was power cut in the room where the body was found, why a press conference was to be held on January 17. But they were tight-lipped,” they told Firstpost.
According to the FIR filed on 1 January 2015 at Sarojni Nagar police station following a final report that declared she died of poisoning submitted to the police on 29 December 2014 by an AIIMS autopsy board comprising three doctors, there were 15 injury marks on Sunanda’s body, which were “caused by blunt force, simple in nature, none contributing to death and produced in a scuffle, except injury number 10 which was an injection mark. Injury number 12 was a teeth bite mark. The injuries number 1 to 10 was of various duration ranging from 12 hours to 4 days”.
Sunanda Pushkar. PTI/File image
Sunanda (51) was found dead in room number 345 at Hotel Leela Palace at around 8:30 pm on January 17 last year, a day after her spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar on micro-blogging website Twitter over her alleged affair with Tharoor.
The sources further said Sanjay Dewan, who is consul general of the Republic of Cape Verde, had to leave for Mumbai but he cancelled the trip and came to the hotel. “Why did he do that? He did not even mention it during interrogation,” they said adding that he was the person who had called the doctor who declared Sunanda dead.
There are reports that he learnt that Sunanda was not well and therefore, he cancelled the Mumbai tour and came to the hotel to meet her.
“Dewan also did not disclose why a cardiologist (Dr Rajat Mohan) was called to the hospital, why she was not rushed to the hospital or the doctor available in the hotel was called,” the sources added.
The sources further said Tharoor’s personal assistant Rakesh Kumar had bought Alprax (an anti-anxiety drug) for Sunanda. “But he did not say anything about it in his police interrogation after the death,” they added. But he is not being subjected to lie-detection test.
Two used Alprax strips (15 tablets in each strip) were recovered from the crime scene. However, the viscera report does not mention it. Was it done to misguide the probe?
“It might be. The SIT is proving the case at various angles. There are several dots, which need to be connected to reach a logical conclusion and bring the culprits brought to book. All aspects of the case are being examined with extreme care. The picture will be clearer after the polygraph test of the three and final viscera report,” said one of them.
The viscera sample has already been sent to FBI labs in the United States in February. DCP (South) Prem Nath had gone there to deliver the sample after AIIMS doctors had concluded that Sunanda died of poisoning but did not identify which poison caused the death because, they said, Indian labs lacked facility to identify the poison.
“Once the poison is identified, the investigators would be able to find out how it reached her body,” he added.
The SIT is also probing foreign angle in the case. “Three persons stayed in the hotel for five days from 13 to 18 January last year using fake passports. As the information available with us, they were foreign nationals. Their involvement cannot be ruled out as well. It is extremely important for us to probe every possible angle so that we can reach a conclusion,” a source had earlier told Firstpost.
Notably, Sunanda too had tweeted before her death, “This is a Pakistani woman (referring to Mehr Trar) who is an ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) agent, and she is stalking my husband,” Pushkar had said before her death.
The doctors had mentioned Polonium-210, a radioactive substance – which is not so easy to be procured by a common man, as one probable toxic materials used in the murder. It strengthens the theory of involvement of well-connected people.
The investigators are also probing if the murder was carried out because of financial reasons and had anything to do with her high profile handling of IPL teams.
“We are probing if she was killed due to financial reasons, including her various properties in India and abroad. We are also trying to find out whether the murder has any link with IPL,” a member of the SIT had said.