Sunanda death: 9 months to find cause of poisoning

 It might take about nine months to ascertain the cause of poisoning which led to the death of Union Minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar.

According to Sub-Divisional Magistrate Alok Sharma, Sunanda’s viscera samples have been sent for examination to CBI’s Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Normally, it takes about nine months for the report.

Viscera are soft internal organs of the body, especially those contained within the abdominal and thoracic cavities. Samples were taken by a three-member team of AIIMS when Sunanda’s post-mortem was conducted on last Saturday.

Sources, however, said a special request has been made to the CBI to provide the report as soon as possible as it is a high-profile case.

The SDM has concluded in his report that Sunanda’s death was likely caused by ‘drug poisoning’.

The conclusion was based on Sunanda’s post-mortem report. Police have also been instructed by the SDM to conduct a further probe into her death.

Currently, police are verifying call detail record of Sunanda’s mobile phone and making list of people who spoke to her in last two days before she was found dead in a suite of five-star hotel The Leela Palace in south Delhi’s Chanakyapuri.

Tharoor is likely to be the first person to be questioned by police.

“We have also asked the hotel manager to give details of people who met her in the room,” said a senior police officer, adding she talked to around 50 people, including Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.

Many people known to Sunanda met her in the hotel room and few even went there after her death, including a journalist of a news channel, sources added. “Everyone will be verified and questioned in the case,” the officer added.

As part of his investigation, the SDM has recorded the statement of 11 people, including Tharoor and Sunanda’s son Shiv Menon.

Veteran journalist Nalini Singh has also given a two-page written statement claiming that Sunanda was ‘distraught’ and ‘crying’ over phone when she spoke with her early on January 17.

Sharma had also recorded the statements of Pushkar’s brothers Rajesh Pushkar and Ashish Das, Tharoor’s personal assistant Rajkumar Sharma and consultant Shiv Kumar, and two doctors, including the one from The Leela Palace Hotel, who had declared her dead, a servant and a driver.

According to section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), an SDM is empowered to hold an inquiry into the cause of death in a case that involves the suicide of a woman within seven years of her marriage or “circumstances raising reasonable suspicion that some other person committed an offence in relation to such a woman”.

“There are three angles to her death. It can be homicidal, suicidal or accidental,” sources said.

So far, there have been no allegations of dowry, domestic violence and foul play against Tharoor.

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