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Evidence of drug overdose in Sunanda's body, no trace of alcohol; police intensify probe

Evidence of drug overdose in Sunandas body, no trace of alcohol; police intensify probe

New Delhi: The mystery over the death of Sunanda Pushkar remained unresolved on Sunday as police intensified its probe and a host of persons including her husband Shashi Tharoor, brother Rajesh and journalist Nalini Singh recorded their statements before a Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

Both the police and the SDM, who is holding inquest proceedings, are said to be focusing on whether there was any foul play in the death of 52-year-old Sunanda and how far the reported liaison between Tharoor and a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar was responsible for the events leading to her death.

There was no trace of alcohol in the body of Sunanda Pushkar though some evidence of presence of anti-depressant drug was likely, AIIMS sources said on Sunday.

AIIMS sources on Sunday said the doctors have not found any trace of alcohol in the body. But presence of Alprazolam, which belongs to a group of psychoactive drugs used as sedatives, cannot be ruled out.

Investigators had recovered an empty strip of Alprax from the hotel room.

Media reports had speculated that a combination of alcohol and anti-depressants could have caused her death.

After going through the CCTV footage in the hotel where she died on Friday and on the questioning of the private staff of Tharoor, Union Minister of State for HRD, police have decided to question people Sunanda is understood to have spoken to after she had reportedly fought with her husband on Thursday night.

Tharoor, who wrote to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde offering full cooperation in the probe, recorded his statement before the SDM Alok Sharma on Sunday.

In his letter to Shinde, Tharoor said he was 'horrified' to see the 'reckless speculation rampant' in the media. He said the relevant authorities should be asked to expedite the investigation and come to a rapid conclusion so that the truth emerges at the earliest.

Tharoor, in his 50-minute statement before the SDM, is understood to have narrated the events prior to the death of his wife Sunanda in a five-star hotel suite here.

Apart from Sunanda's brother, Nalini Singh appeared before the SDM claiming she was one of the last persons Sunanda had talked to.

"I have shared with the SDM exactly what Sunanda said to me. She was planning something as she had something in her mind. She did share something with me and I shared it with the SDM," Singh told PTI. Singh said Sunanda was 'very distraught, disturbed and upset' following the Tarar episode.

Police said they are scanning through the CCTV footage of the third floor lobby of the hotel and call records of Sunanda to ferret out details of those who she may have spoken to try and break the mystery.

The minister's personal staff and the hotel staff will also be questioned to piece together evidence and to have an idea about the state of mind she was in on the crucial day and hours before the death.

Investigators said the couple had reportedly altercations in the past and even on Thursday night they had a heated spat which continued till around 4:30 on Friday morning. After that Tharoor had slept on a sofa in the drawing room while Sunanda was in the bed room in the suite.

Investigators said that they will summon those people with whom she spoke over phone and record their statements to understand her state of mind.

The couple's visit to Thiruvananthapuram, where she was hospitalised at Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) for three days before returning to Delhi on Wednesday is also under police scanner.

Police is also planning to seek all the treatment details of Sunanda from KIMS.

Doctors at the AIIMS will submit a preliminary report on Monday on their postmortem findings to the SDM.

After the postmortem, doctors on Saturday had said that Sunanda died a 'sudden unnatural death' and her body bore several injury marks. Police sources said that it could be a case of drug overdose. A number of private staff of Tharoor also recorded their statement before the SDM.

AIIMS doctors have preserved certain 'biological samples for toxicological analysis as well as visco-pathological examination'.

"We have completed the whole procedure. Samples for toxicological analysis means ruling out any poison. Some pathology of the heart has been preserved by us," said Dr Sudhir Gupta, head of the panel of doctors which performed the autopsy.

Samples of body fluids and viscera which were taken yesterday were tested in the AIIMS Forensic Laboratory, findings of which will be submitted as the final report tomorrow to the SDM.

Half of the samples have been sent to the CFSL, the reports of which will be sought only if any discrepancy in this report comes out. Then the court will order CFSL to submit their report directly to them.


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