Shashi Tharoor, a high profile Indian Union Minister, gave his first statement to investigators following the death of his wife, Sunanda Pushkar. In what is turning out to be one of the strangest scandals in modern Indian government, Shashi Tharoor found himself in the midst of what many are calling a “twitter love triangle.” It played out much more like a Twitter war.
Shashi Tharoor is a former UN Diplomat who now serves as a junior Indian Minister of State for Human Resource and Development. He is no stranger to controversy, as he stepped down from his position as Minister of State for the Ministry of External Affairs in 2010 following an IPL cricket scandal. Cricket, one of the largest gambling sports in India, is often in the news for potential scandals involving politicians.
This past Wednesday, seemingly out of nowhere, Shashi Tharoor’s twitter account began posting strange messages to @mehrtarar. Mehr Tarar is a Pakistani journalist who had recently interviewed Tharoor. The tweets sounded like bits and pieces from a broken conversation between two lovers having a feud.
Later, Sunanda Pushkar, 52, revealed she was responsible for hacking into her husband’s Twitter account and posting the messages. Her reasoning? She believed Tarar was stalking her husband and was revealing emails she had recovered from Tarar to Tharoor.
Mehr Tarar vehemently denied all of the accusations, especially an insinuation that she was a Pakistani spy trying to bring down Union Minister Tharoor. Tharoor also offered denials of the affair, but the whole ordeal had Indian media swirling, especially during an election season in which Tharoor’s party is looking to defend their hold on parliament. Many even wondered if the media was being manipulated to create the scandal to hurt the majority parties hopes in the upcoming elections.
Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar issued a joint statement through Facebook on Thursday, January 16:
We are distressed by the unseemly controversy that has arisen about some unauthorised tweets from our Twitter accounts.
Various distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda have appeared in the press. It appears that some personal and private comments responding to these unauthorised tweets — comments that were not intended for publication — have been misrepresented and led to some erroneous conclusions.
We wish to stress that we are happily married and intend to remain that way. Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest. We would be grateful if the media respects our privacy.
On Friday, the unthinkable happened. Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in her room at the Leela Palace, a hotel in New Dehli. Because of the public nature of the ongoing scandal, officials immediately launched into an investigation. An autopsy revealed that Pushkar’s death was “unnatural and sudden”. Though all the details are not clear, it is believed that she had significant amounts of drugs in her system as well as injuries.
Shashi Tharoor has agreed to work with the Sub Divisional Magistrate to reveal all details concerning his wife’s mysterious death. On Friday, Tharoor was questioned for over 30 minutes at the home of magistrate Alok Sharma. His testimony was to reveal the timeline of events leading up to the death of his wife.
Shashi Tharoor is sure to be answering many more questions in the days to come, especially as Sunanda Pushkar’s full toxicology report is to be revealed on Monday.