Sunanda Pushkar Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

New Delhi: Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, wife of Indian minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a 5-star hotel late Friday evening.

Her body was found in a suite the couple had booked at New Delhi’s Leela hotel on Thursday when Tharoor returned to the hotel with his personal secretary Abhinav Kumar after attending a meeting of the All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Police suspect Sunanda committed suicide sometime in the early evening. According to Delhi Police, her body was sent for postmortem and the exact cause of death would only be known after receiving the postmortem report amid allegations by her friends that Sunanda could have been poisoned.

According to Tharoor’s secretary Kumar, the couple had moved to the hotel on Thursday and spent the night there as some painting work was under way at their official bungalow.

Tharoor opted to visit his house after the AICC session concluded at around 5 pm before returning to the hotel at around 8:30 pm, when he was informed by hotel staff that Sunanda had not been responding to calls at her door. Her body was found when the hotel staff used duplicate keys to open the door, following which Tharoor informed the police, though unconfirmed reports suggest that Tharoor had checked in at another 5-star hotel in South Delhi after the AICC session and rushed to the Leela hotel when informed that Sunanda was not responding to repeated knocks on the door of her suite.

Sunanda was involved in an ugly Twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband following Mehr’s alleged open confession of love for Tharoor.

According to news channel Headlines Today, Sunanda had been tweeting until the early hours of Friday after watching Mehr’s telephonic interview on the channel. Her last tweet was seen at 5:30 am, in which she responded to a get-well message by suggesting who knew when she would have to go. The post read: “will try got so many issues diagnosed in KIMS that know who knows when I got 2 go with joy Hastay hua jayegay (will go laughing) (sic).”

Mehr, accused of having an affair with Tharoor, expressed shock at Sunanda’s mysterious death.

“I am absolutely shocked,” Mehr said in tweet. “This is too awful for words. So tragic. I don’t know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda.”

The spat between Sunanda and Mehr came to the fore on Wednesday when Tharoor, the junior minister for human resource development, alleged that his Twitter account had been hacked after Sunanda reacted sharply to alleged tweets from Mehr confessing to her love for Tharoor.

She termed Mehr of being an ISI agent and asked her to stay away from her husband.

The couple issued a joint statement on Thursday stating that they were happily married and intended to remain so.

Sunanda was unwell and had been hospitalised recently. According to unconfirmed reports, she was diagnosed to be suffering from tuberculosis.

Later, a Delhi Police spokesperson announced that, according to rules, since the Tharoors had been married for less than seven years, an inquiry by an official of the level of sub-divisional magistrate would be conducted besides the police probe, which was under way after evacuating and sealing off the entire third floor of the Leela hotel.