Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Indian government minister Shashi Tharoor, has been found dead in a five-star hotel in Delhi in what police suspect is a case of suicide. Pushkar, 52, who was married to Tharoor for a little more than three years, was found in the luxurious Leela Palace hotel in South Delhi, top police sources said. But it remains unclear how she died. Police did confirm, however, that her husband alerted them to her passing.
The tragic incident comes on the heels of a huge scandal in which reports alleged that Tharoor was involved in an extra-marital affair with a Pakistani journalist named Mehr Tahrar. In the age of social media, tweets apparently sent by all three parties attesting to the affair captured the imagination of Indian media. But just prior to Pushkar’s death, she and her husband had asserted that their marriage was fine. On Thursday, Pushkar and Tharoor issued a joint statement that said they were distressed by an "unseemly controversy" about some "unauthorized tweets" and that both were "happily married and intend to remain that way.”
Tahrar, the “other woman” in this alleged ménage-a-trois, had denied she was ever involved with the Indian minister. She expressed her condolences over Pushkar’s sudden death. "I'm absolutely shocked,” Tahrar tweeted. "This is too awful for words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda."
During the recent twitter imbroglio, Pushkar threatened to divorce her husband and even claimed that Tahrar was probably a Pakistani spy who was “stalking” Tharoor. "And you know how men are. He is flattered by the attention," Pushkar told the Economic Times newspaper. "I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can't tolerate this. I have nothing more to say.” In response, Tahrar threatened to file a lawsuit against Pushkar for defamation.
The thrice-married Tharoor is a Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram -- he was Pushkar's second husband.
Prior to Pushkar's death, Tahrar told Indian media that she had met Tharoor only twice and that Pushkar's worries about an affair between the two of them was a figment of her imagination.
Tharoor, also a former diplomat at the United Nations, has other skeletons in his closet. In 2010, he had to resign from an earlier government ministry amid charges of corruption in connection with his attempts to purchase a cricket team in his native Kerala. Pushkar, a Dubai-based entrepreneur and then Tharoor’s girlfriend, reportedly gained a free portion of an Indian Premier League franchise that Tharoor was bidding for. That free stake was reportedly worth about $15 million.