Updated: 01/18/2014 16:56 | By Agence France-Presse

Autopsy for Indian minister's wife who died after Twitter row

The body of the wife of an Indian minister, found dead in a luxury hotel days after accusing her husband on Twitter of being unfaithful, was moved to a hospital Saturday for an autopsy.


Autopsy for Indian minister's wife who died after Twitter row

An ambulance arrives at the Leela Hotel in New Delhi on January 17, 2014 where wife of Indian minister Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar was found dead

The body was discovered by human resources minister Shashi Tharoor after he returned from a Congress party meeting late Friday, his private secretary Abhinav Kumar said.

The death of Sunanda Pushkar, 52, described by friends as the "life of any party", sent shockwaves through New Delhi's social set and came as a tragic twist in a tale of apparent marital strife.

The high-profile row which embroiled a Pakistani journalist has played out on Twitter, in newspapers and on television in full public glare. 

"There were no signs of any foul play," Kumar said late Friday. "She seemed to be sleeping in a normal way but later it was found she was dead." 

Officials said it was not known yet how she died. She had been taking medications for various illnesses, including tuberculosis, according to local media.

"Whatever is destined to happen will happen, will go smiling," were among Pushkar's last tweets, The Times of India reported.

Indian social media users called it the first "death by Twitter" -- with the drama being played out over days on the micro-blogging site.

A spokeswoman for the top government hospital where Pushkar's body was moved said the autopsy would be performed Saturday.

Tharoor was admitted Saturday to the same hospital where his wife's body was being held, after complaining of "general chest discomfort", the spokeswoman told reporters.

But his test results were normal and he would be released soon, she said.

The couple appeared deeply in love in 2010 when they wed and were a glamorous pair on the social scene but the rumour mill had been abuzz for months with talk of marital problems.

Indian newspapers splashed the death on their front pages. "Soon after Twitter war, Sunanda Pushkar found dead in Delhi hotel," said the tabloid Mail Today in a headline.

The drama began late Wednesday when a curious series of messages appeared on the Twitter account of the suave thrice-married Tharoor, a former high-flying UN diplomat, novelist and key government spokesman. 

They showed private exchanges purportedly between the 57-year-old minister (@shashitharoor) and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar (@mehrtarar), in which she professed her love for him and he said his wife had discovered their relationship.

Tharoor, known as "Mr Twitter" with more than two million followers, quickly responded by saying his account was "hacked", but Pushkar spoke to newspapers saying she sent the messages.

She also raked up a corruption scandal related to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament that almost wrecked Tharoor's career in 2010 and led him to resign from the cabinet.

Seeking to draw a line under the scandal, Tharoor issued a joint statement Thursday in which he blamed unauthorised tweets and distorted media reports for the "unseemly controversy".

The statement said the couple were "happily married". 

Cricket-loving Tharoor and his wife, the mother of an adult son from a former marriage, had been staying at the hotel since Thursday as work was being done to their home. 

Television anchor Sagarika Ghose said she spoke to Pushkar on Friday, saying she had appeared depressed and was sobbing uncontrollably.

The Pakistani journalist whom Pushkar accused of "stalking" her husband strongly denied having a relationship with the former UN diplomat.

Reacting to Pushkar's death, Tarar tweeted: "I'm absolutely shocked. This is too awful for words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest in peace, Sunanda." 

Tharoor had spent three decades in the United Nations where he was beaten to the post of secretary general by Ban Ki-moon.

The famed author quit the UN after this defeat and entered Indian politics in 2008 as a ruling party MP in southern Kerala state.

Tharoor, a father of two adult sons, had to resign from his first ministerial post in 2010 after revelations that then-girlfriend Pushkar had been given a free stake in a new IPL cricket team. Both denied wrongdoing.

Tharoor's son, Ishaan, a journalist at Time magazine, requested "that everyone please respect our family's privacy". 

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