Updated: 01/18/2014 01:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Indian minister's wife 'found dead' amid adultery row

The wife of prominent Indian minister Shashi Tharoor was found dead Friday in a five-star hotel room after she exposed his alleged adultery with a Pakistani journalist on Twitter.


Indian minister's wife 'found dead' amid adultery row

Indian minister Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar are pictured in New Delhi on March 12, 2012 - by Prakash Singh

The minister's private secretary, Abhinav Kumar, told reporters that Tharoor and Pushkar had been staying at the luxury hotel since Thursday as painting work was being done at their home. 

The minister had been away during the day at a conference, Kumar said.

When he returned in the evening, he found the door of Pushkar's suite locked from the inside.

"She seemed to be sleeping in a normal way but later it was found she was dead," he said. 

Kumar said there was "no sign of foul play", adding: "The cause of death and the time of death, we cannot say now." 

TV footage showed an ambulance with flashing blue lights outside the hotel.

Pushkar's death came a day after Tharoor issued what he called a joint statement from the couple saying they were "happily married and intend to remain that way".

The statement added "Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest" and asked for the media to respect the couple's privacy.

The alleged affair surfaced late Wednesday when a curious series of messages appeared on the Twitter account of the suave thrice-married human resources minister, seen by his two million followers. 

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

Tharoor quickly responded by saying his Twitter account had been "hacked," but wife Sunanda spoke to two newspapers saying that she was the author of the messages.

"Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets," Sunanda told the Economic Times, adding to the Indian Express that she "100 percent" stood by the messages.

However, the statement had said  the couple were "distressed" by the controversy created by "unauthorised tweets" and denounced "distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda in the press".

The Pakistani journalist strongly denied having an affair with the former high-flying UN diplomat.

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

Then Tarar added, "What the hell. Sunanda. Oh my God." 

CNN-IBN channel anchor Sagarika Ghose said she spoke to Pushkar on Thursday and she appeared depressed and was sobbing uncontrollably. 

Ghose said Pushkar, who has a son in his 20s from an earlier marriage, told her she had seen a message in which Tharoor allegedly said he would leave his wife after general elections due by May.

Sunanda, who had reportedly been suffering from tuberculosis, had accused Pakistani journalist Tarar of being a Pakistani intelligence agent and of "stalking" her husband. 

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