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Not polonium: Sunanda Pushkar report 'politically motivated' says AIIMS doc

New Delhi: In a fresh twist to the Sunanda Pushkar death case, a doctor associated with the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has claimed that the “intake of acetaminophen (a paracetamol) with alcohol” resulted in the death of Sunanda, wife of Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor.

He termed the latest medical report sent to the Delhi Police on 29 December by AIIMS - in which a panel of doctors has suggested that the death occurred due to poisoning but did not ascertain the nature of the poison – as being “politically motivated”.

 Not polonium: Sunanda Pushkar report politically motivated says AIIMS doc

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“Traces of acetaminophen, caffeine (found in seeds, leaves and fruit of some plants here where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyses and kills certain insects feeding on the plants), cotinine (an alkaloid found in tobacco) and ethyl alcohol were found in her body during the analysis of viscera and toxicology reports. The toxicity of this drug increased with the ingestion of this drug with alcohol,” he told Firstpost, adding that its “administration can be suicidal as well as homicidal. It is up to the police to come with the truth”.

“But the points to be noted here are that if she committed suicide by ingesting it, why were there several bruises and an injection mark on her body? It cannot be ruled out that she was administered a paracetamol overdose through injection while she was under the influence of alcohol,” he pointed out.

When asked about the poisons/chemicals (nerium oleander, snake venom, heroins, polonium 210 and thallium) listed by the AIIMS medical team headed by Dr Sudhir Gupta as the probable cause of death in the “conclusive” report that “cannot be tested in India”, he revealed, “It is politically motivated and aims at giving the investigation a new twist. The reason of death is crystal clear and has already been mentioned in the report. Our forensic science laboratories are well equipped to do all types of analysis.”

The report was handed over to Inspector VKPS Yadav, the investigating officer (IO) of the case, on 30 September. Notably, earlier, Atul Sood was the IO of the case but he was transferred. ACP Surinder Sharma, who was supervising the investigations, retired in late September. The DCP of the area was also shifted to the traffic department.

As per the preliminary report, Sunanda's body had 15 injuries, all of them caused within 12 hours before her death. All the injuries "were caused by blunt force”. Injury number 10 is an injection mark, says the autopsy report, which was conducted by the same panel of doctors who had said the death was “sudden, unnatural and due to drug overdose”.

In addition to the preliminary report, the doctor also rubbished the CFSL’s viscera report that found all Sunanda’s organs, including the kidney, liver, lungs and heart, were working properly before her death. “Her medical history shows that she was suffering from Lupus (an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue). Despite knowing that the CFSL’s report was tailor-made, we had to accommodate some of its findings in our final report,” the doctor said hinting at political compulsion.

However, he said there was nothing new in the final report. “We told the police whatever we had been saying since the beginning. More or less, we stuck to our initial findings. We have been maintaining since the beginning that it is an unnatural death due to poisoning,” he said.

But the police had termed the final report submitted on September 30 “inconclusive” and had sent several queries for clarification. The medical team replied to all queries in a final report sent to the police on 29 December following which cops registered a murder case against unknown persons.

Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi said on Tuesday that they registered the case on 30 December after receiving a final medical report on 29 December from AIIMS.

“The final medical report we received from AIIMS has concluded that the death was not natural and caused due to poisoning. The poison was either injected or fed orally. An injection mark on the body made the possibility of it being self-inflicted remote", Bassi told Firstpost.

Since the report has not ascertained the nature of the poison, the top cop said the viscera would be sent abroad for further analysis.

A police source said the autopsy panel would be asked to clarify if Sunanda's death appears to be a case of “suicide” or “homicide”. “The doctors replied that the possibility of homicide could be ruled out because she died of poisoning,” said the source, adding that since “the angle of homicide has also been indicated by the doctors, we have filed a case and are probing this theory as well”.

INDIA-POLITICS-HEALTH-SINGH“We have restarted our probe and will add many new elements in it like the examination of the doctor who attended Sunanda after her death in the hotel, the photographs of the spot and the matters collected by the forensic team from the bed and mattress of the hotel room,” he added.

Asked why the police took almost a year to file the case, which could have been registered on the basis of statements made by Tharoor’s domestic help Narayan Singh before Sub-Divisional Magistrate Alok Sharma at his Kapasera office on 21 January, 2014, the source said, “As the case is high profile, we were and are extremely cautious and taking each step with much thinking. We were waiting for the final medical report to come.”

Asked if Shashi Tharoor can be quizzed once again, he added, “Yes, he can be called for questioning once again in a day or two.”

Narayan Singh had said the couple had a “strained relationship and were fighting, which often turned loud and sometimes physical”. Apart from three major injuries on her wrist, chin and neck, doctors at AIIMS claim that she had more than a dozen brazen scuffle marks on the upper part of her body.

Journalist Nalini Singh in her two-page statement to the SDM stated that Sunanda had called her around 12:10 am on January 17, 2014, and was crying. She also mentioned Tharoor’s alleged relationship with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar.

Tharoor had shot off an e-mail to Delhi Police chief Bassi alleging that his men were torturing and pressuring his domestic held Narayan Singh and driver Bajrangi to make statements against him. Bassi had responded to the e-mail assuring the lawmaker that his complaints would be investigated.

At last, a year later, the question remains still the same: who killed Sunanda?

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Updated Date: Jan 07, 2015 12:53:16 IST