New Delhi: As the Delhi Police on Monday charged Congress leader Shashi Tharoor with abetting his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s suicide in 2014, AIIMS forensic department head Sudhir Gupta, who headed the medical board conducting the autopsy, said the filing of chargesheet was delayed by four years during which a lot of evidence was destroyed. Speaking to IANS, Gupta said: “From the beginning, I had said the death was due to poisoning. We said it was due to alphrax poisoning…and could also be mixed poisoning and there were injuries on the body.
“So, it is not a natural death and not even accidental. FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US) also confirmed the same thing. So, the only option left was either suicide or homicide, which was to be investigated by the police.” He said he had been saying “from the first day” that it could be either suicide or homicide.
Pushkar, 52, wife of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a south Delhi hotel room on January 17, 2014. Blaming the Police for the shoddy investigation, Gupta said: “A lot of evidence has been destroyed, even Delhi Police destroyed evidence. So they had to do something on the basis of the evidence they had.”
“It is not a one-man show in Delhi Police. It’s a many-man show.” He said police took four years to file the chargesheet and delayed a lot.
“I have been saying from the beginning that it has been a shoddy investigation. It does not take so much of time. You call that shoddy. Isn’t it?” he said. The Delhi Police had earlier registered a case of murder in the death of Pushkar after the medical report said her death was unnatural and was caused by poisoning.
Asked how police changed the case from murder to suicide, Gupta said: “You should ask the police about it. Earlier, they did not accept my report, but ultimately they had to include my report in the chargesheet. The chargesheet they filed is based on my report.
He said even the FBI had endorsed the AIIMS report of poisoning as the cause of death. He said Tharoor being charged at least proved that there was some “criminality” in the case.
“They are charging him for abetment of suicide. At least, he has been charged with criminality. In the beginning, they (police) were saying it was a natural death.” Gupta said the police had to prove it in the court now. “It is their duty. It is open in the court. The police can be criticised there (for the investigation). It’s not my role to investigate.”
The AIIMS report had stated that “the cause of death was poisoning and the viscera was positive for ethyl alcohol, caffeine, acetaminophen and cotinine”. The AIIMS medical board in its second opinion in 2014 had listed poisonous substances such as thallium, polonium-210, nerium oleander, snake bites, photolabile poisons and heroin, which were said to be either undetectable or difficult to detect at Indian laboratories.
Pushkar’s viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington DC, United States, to determine the poison that may have killed her. The FBI had endorsed the AIIMS report stating poisoning as the cause of Pushkar’s death.
Gupta had earlier alleged that he was asked by then AIIMS director MC Mishra to prepare a post-mortem examination report of Pushkar, stating her death was “natural”. Mishra had filed an affidavit with the Delhi High Court to remove Gupta from his post.