Sunanda death case transferred to Crime Branch

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New Delhi: In a significant development, the probe into the mysterious death of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, was today transfered to the elite Crime Branch of Delhi Police, reflecting the complexities in the high-profile case.

The probe has been handed over to Crime Branch two days after a sub-divisional magistrate directed the police to investigate the murder or suicide angles in the case.

“We will proceed in the case as per law,” said Special Commissioner (Crime) Dharmendra Kumar.

Sources said the case has been transferred considering its “sensitive nature” and “complexities” involved.

Asked whether Crime Branch will question Tharoor and 11 other people who had already given their statement to the SDM, Kumar said a decision in this regard will be taken after examining the case details.

On Tuesday, sub-divisional magistrate Alok Sharma in his report had concluded “poisoning” as the reason for Sunanda’s death and asked the police to investigate the case “thoroughly”.

52-year-old Sunanda was found dead in a 5-star hotel in South Delhi on Friday night, a day after her twitter spat with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar over an alleged affair with Tharoor.

In a report to the police, SDM, who has recorded the statements of Sunanda’s brother, son, Tharoor and his staff, said that no family member suspected any foul play in the death.

The sources had said autopsy report also mentions a “deep teeth bite” on the edge of the left palm apart from mentioning over a dozen injury marks.

They had said autopsy report has found mix of two drugs – Alprazolam and Excedrin – in Sunanda’s body. Excedrin is a combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine.

The SDM, in his report, had said Sunanda could have died in “just three ways, homicidal, suicidal and accidental” and police should investigate further to ascertain the reason of her death.

The SDM said under section 176 of CrPC his job was to determine cause of the death which has been established as poisoning.

Any death within seven years of marriage is legally required to be investigated by the sub-divisional magistrate.

The case was earlier handled by the South district police. It had questioned a number of staff of Leela Palace hotel in Chanakyapuri where Sunanda was found dead.

Investigators had seized Sunanda’s iPad and phone and preserved the CCTV footage of the lobby of the third floor of the luxury hotel where she was staying and all these case properties will now be handed over to the crime branch.

As per the SDM report, no family member of Sunanda had doubted any foul play in the case.

Shiv Menon, Sunanda’s 21-year-old son from a previous marriage, in a statement released to media yesterday had said his mother was “too strong” to commit suicide and she died due to an “unfortunate combination of media stress, tensions and a wrong mix of different medication”.

He said both Tharoor and his mother were “very much in love” despite their “occasional differences” and that he did not believe the Union minister was capable of harming her physically.

In their statement Sunanda’s two brothers ? Ashish Das and Rajesh Pushkar ? also have not made any allegations against Tharoor, sources said.

“You need very strong evidences to establish that there was any thing like abatement of suicide. At this moment, we don’t have anything which points in this direction,” investigators said.

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