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Published: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 8:49:00 AM
Updated: Saturday January 18, 2014 MYT 7:33:25 PM

India minister's wife died 'unnatural' death: autopsy (Updated)

Indian minister Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar are pictured in New Delhi on March 12, 2012. - AFP

Indian minister Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar are pictured in New Delhi on March 12, 2012. - AFP

NEW DELHI, Jan 18, 2014 (AFP) - The wife of Indian minister Shashi Tharoor, found dead in a luxury hotel after accusing her husband of being unfaithful, suffered an "unnatural, sudden death", a doctor who performed an autopsy on her body said Saturday.

"More tests" are needed to determine the cause of Sunanda Pushkar's death and the final results will not be known for two to three days, Sudhir Gupta, one of three doctors who performed the autopsy, told reporters.

He added Pushkar's body had "some physical injuries", but it was unclear whether they were related to her death.

The body was expected to be cremated later in the day, local media reports said.

Tharoor found his wife dead in a luxury hotel room Friday, just two days after she accused him on Twitter and in other media of having an affair with a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar.

"There were no signs of any foul play," Tharoor's press assistant Abhinav Kumar told reporters. "She seemed to be sleeping in a normal way but later it was found she was dead."

Tharoor was admitted Saturday to the same top government hospital where the autopsy was performed on his wife's body after complaining of "general chest discomfort", a hospital spokeswoman told reporters.

But his test results were normal and he was released. TV footage showed him leaving the hospital looking ashen.

Pushkar, 52, a Dubai-based entrepreneur before marrying Tharoor in 2010, had been taking medications for various illnesses, including tuberculosis, according to local media.

In one of her last tweets, which later appeared to have been removed, she wrote: "Whatever is destined to happen will happen, will go smiling".

Indian social media users called it the first "death by Twitter", with the drama being played out over the micro-blogging site.

The death of Pushkar, described by friends as the "life of any party", sent shockwaves through New Delhi's social set.

The couple appeared deeply in love when they wed and were a glamorous pair on the social scene, but the rumour mill had been abuzz for months with talk of marital problems.

Indian newspapers splashed the death on their front pages. "Soon after Twitter war, Sunanda Pushkar found dead in Delhi hotel," said the tabloid Mail Today in a headline.

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

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

Tharoor, known as "Mr Twitter" with over two million followers, quickly responded by saying his account was "hacked", but Pushkar spoke to newspapers saying she sent the messages.

She also raked up a corruption scandal related to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament that almost wrecked Tharoor's career in 2010 and led him to resign from the cabinet.

Both Pushkar and Tharoor had denied any wrongdoing.

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

The statement said the couple were "happily married".

Cricket-loving Tharoor and his wife, the mother of an adult son from a former marriage, had been staying at the hotel since Thursday while work was being done to their home.

Television anchor Sagarika Ghose said she spoke to Pushkar on Friday, saying she appeared depressed and was sobbing uncontrollably.

The Pakistani journalist whom Pushkar accused of "stalking" her husband strongly denied having a relationship with the former UN diplomat.

Reacting to Pushkar's death, Tarar tweeted: "I'm absolutely shocked. This is too awful for words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda."

Tharoor, a thrice-married father of grown sons, spent three decades in the UN where he was beaten to the post of secretary general by Ban Ki-moon.

The author then quit the UN and entered Indian politics in 2008 as a ruling Congress party MP.

Tharoor's son, Ishaan, a journalist at Time magazine, requested "that everyone please respect our family's privacy".

Earlier Report:

Indian minister's wife 'found dead' amid adultery row

New Delhi (AFP) - The wife of prominent Indian minister Shashi Tharoor was found dead Friday in a five-star hotel room after she exposed his alleged adultery with a Pakistani journalist on Twitter, media reports said.

The Press Trust of India, quoting unnamed police sources, said the minister reported his wife's death to police. It was not immediately known how Sunanda Pushkar had died.

TV footage showed an ambulance with flashing blue lights outside the luxury hotel.

Pushkar's death came a day after Tharoor issued what he called a joint statement from the couple saying they were "happily married and intend to remain that way".

The statement added that "Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest" and asked for the media to respect the couple's privacy.

The alleged affair surfaced late on Wednesday when a curious series of messages appeared on the Twitter account of the suave thrice-married human resources minister, seen by his two million followers.

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

Tharoor quickly responded by saying his Twitter account had been "hacked," but wife Sunanda spoke to two newspapers saying that she was the author of the messages.

"Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets," Sunanda told the Economic Times, adding to the Indian Express that she "100 percent" stood by the messages.

The Pakistani journalist strongly denied having an affair with the former high-flying UN diplomat.

Tharoor had to resign from his first ministerial post after revelations that then-girlfriend Sunanda had been given a free stake in a new Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team.

Opposition parties said the stake, reportedly worth up to $15 million, was for Tharoor's behind-the-scenes services in putting together a consortium that bought a franchise in his home state of Kerala.

Both had denied any wrongdoing.

In the statement, Tharoor said the couple were "distressed" by the controversy created by "unauthorised tweets" and denounced "distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda in the press."

Tags / Keywords: Indian minister's wife, dead, adultery row, Shashi Tharoor, twitter

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