'Traces of anti-depressant pill found in body'

Sunanda went into coma, did not recover, say sources

Traces of Alprazolam medicine, an anti-depressant, were found during the post-mortem of Union Minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar, sources said.

The pill is commonly used for treatment of panic disorder, and anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate Alok Sharma and Delhi Police officers went to AIIMS on Monday where the preliminary findings of the post-mortem report was handed over to them. A three-member team of AIIMS had conducted Sunanda’s post-mortem on Saturday.

The SDM confirmed that he received a sealed report on Monday evening. He, however, did not read the report and said it will be analys ed on Tuesday. The doctors had said Sunanda died an “unnatural, sudden death”.

According to sources, the  report suggests that Sunanda died after slipping into coma due to Alprazolam overdose.

No alcohol in blood

“There was no trace of alcohol in her blood. She had 12 old injury marks, but they did not cause the 52-year-old’s death,” sources said, adding police will now investigate whether the fatal overdose was accidental or not.

“Her stomach wash reflected that she had no solids on the day of death,” sources added.
Three strips of Alprazolam (0.5mg) were recovered from the suite of five-star hotel The Leela Palace in Chanakyapuri, where Sunanda was found dead on January 17. Sources said 27 of the 30 tablets were not found. It indicates that Sunanda may have committed suicide by consuming the pills in large numbers.

Tharoor was also asked about Sunanda’s possible dependence on Alprazolam when his statement was recorded before the SDM on Sunday. Along with Tharoor, Sunanda’s brother Rajesh and journalist Nalini Singh have also recorded their statements before the SDM. The SDM has further asked police to provide Sunanda’s call data record between 3pm and 7 pm on January 17.

Sources said that if murder or suicide is established over the post-mortem report, the SDM could ask police to file a case under appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code. However, a case is unlikely to be registered as the matter could be seen as accidental overdose.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has asked Delhi Police to conduct an expeditious probe into Sunanda’s death.

“Tharoor has written to me and sought an expeditious probe. I have already talked to the persons concerned and they are doing it,” Shinde said.

Tharoor has offered full cooperation into the probe and said the truth should emerge at the earliest. He is also “horrified to read the reckless, rampant speculation” in the media.

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