Delhi Police is all set to charge Congress Party MP and UPA II Cabinet Minister Shashi Tharoor in connection with the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar. Delhi Police is likely to charge Tharoor under Section 306 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 306 is a non-bailable charge related to abetment of suicide while 201 is related to destruction of evidence.
If convicted under these sections, Shashi Tharoor could face up to 10 years of imprisonment.
Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor had married in 2010, it was third marriage for both of them. The marriage took place in Kerala after Shashi Tharoor was elected as a Member of the Parliament in the Congress Party led UPA regime.
The first controversy concerning Sunanda Pushkar started in February 2010 when she was made Director of Rendezvous Sports World, the company which bid for the Kochi Tuskers Kerala team in the IPL. She also received sweat equity worth 700 million rupees in the same company. She was made a Director in the company 18 days before the company bid for the IPL franchise. Shortly before her death in 2014, Sunanda had stated that she would expose the crimes of Shashi Tharoor.
On 15th January, a series of intimate messages supposedly sent by Pakistani Journalist Mehr Tarar were posted on Shashi Tharoor’s Twitter account. Sunanda later revealed that she had posted the messages on Tharoor’s official handle to expose Mehr Tarar’s stalking of her husband. Sunanda Pushkar also accused Mehr Tarar of being an agent of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).The next day, a note titled “Joint statement by Sunanda and Shashi Tharoor” was published on Shashi Tharoor’s Facebook page. The note stated that the couple was happily married and some personal comments not intended for publication had been misrepresented after being posted on Twitter.
On 17 January 2014, a day after the Twitter controversy, Sunanda was found dead in room number 345 of the Leela Palace hotel in Chankyapuri, New Delhi where the couple had shifted to as their house was being renovated. Shashi Tharoor discovered her body, when she did not wake up from her sleep in the evening. He informed the Delhi Police, who recovered the body from the hotel and sent it for postmortem.
According to initial reports, Sunanda was suspected to have committed suicide. Later reports stated that the cause of death was unnatural. The doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) gave a preliminary autopsy report that revealed injury marks on her body. They said that these injuries may be the cause of death. The autopsy indicated that she died of drug overdose, most likely a combination of sedatives, other strong medicines and probably alcohol.
ON 1st July, 2014 the controversy over her death deepened when AIIMS doctor Sudhir Gupta claimed that he was under duress to give a false report related to the case.
On 10th October 2014 the medical team concluded that she had died of poisoning, the Delhi Police on 6th January 2015 filed an FIR in this regard, and the police reported Sunanda Pushkar was murdered.
Subramanian Swamy, a BJP politician, had challenged the Delhi High Court’s ruling which dismissed his appeal for a court-monitored probe by a SIT. The Supreme Court in February 2018 had decided to hear Swamy’s plea seeking special inquiry in relation to the charges being levied. The Supreme Court Judge, Justice Arun Mishra and his bench had directed the Delhi Police to file a status report.
Shashi Tharoor has served as a diplomat for a long time at the United Nations (UN). He was the Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and served as head of the Department of Public Information. He was a close aide and protégé of Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of UN. Shashi Tharoor was nominated for the post of UN Secretary-general by the Government of India in 2006. He lost to South Korean Ban Ki Moon in the polls held by the UN Security Council.
Tharoor’s achievements in his personal life and as a diplomat have suffered owing to his political career. His reputation was marred by the controversies which arose out of his alliance with the Congress Party. Even the beautiful flowery language of Tharoor could not hide the lies and policies of Congress. He was always in constant friction with the Congress Party leaders, owing to his expose of Jawaharlal Nehru’s failure in foreign policy. Tharoor later held a press conference describing the media report as “inaccurate” and “tendentious”. In 2014 he expressed support for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which again ended in Congress ministers accusing him of having pro-Modi sentiments. He was dropped from the post of the official spokesperson of the Congress Party following this incident.
It is sad to see the downfall of a man who could have been much more than an accused in a murder case involving his wife. His experience and knowledge might be phenomenal but owing to his allegiance with the Congress Party, he might just be remembered for these in the future.