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Staff claim wife walkout after tiff

New Delhi, Jan. 18: Shashi Tharoor’s staff have revealed that Sunanda Pushkar left his Lodhi Estate bungalow on Wednesday after a fight and checked into a five-star hotel alone, Delhi police sources claimed.

The sources said attendant Narayan and driver Bajrangi also mentioned in their statements to a sub-divisional magistrate that Tharoor checked into The Leela Palace the next day and subsequently shifted to a suite on the third floor.

“Tharoor’s driver and attendant said the couple had frequent fights over the past few days,” an officer who is part of the probe team said.

“On Wednesday evening, Sunanda left the MP’s bungalow on 97 Lodhi Estate and checked into a third-floor room of the five-star hotel alone. Tharoor checked in the next day and they shifted to a suite on the same floor.”

Another officer added: “We also have reports they fought at Delhi airport after landing from Kerala on Wednesday.”

The police today recorded Tharoor’s statement after the cremation of his wife Pushkar, who was found dead in their hotel suite yesterday.

Sub-divisional magistrate Alok Sharma will record Tharoor’s statement tomorrow as law mandates that the death of a spouse within seven years of marriage has to be investigated by the SDM as well.

“From the post-mortem report, it is clear it was not a natural death. There are suspicions on the cause of death,” another officer said. “It could also be a case of overdose of sleeping pills and anti-depression drugs.”

The police claimed they had seized some drugs — said to be sleeping pills — from Pushkar’s handbag recovered from the hotel suite.

Delhi police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said preliminary inquiries revealed that Pushkar had not eaten for two days.

“After the post-mortem report, it is apparent the death was homicidal or suicidal or accidental. We have registered a general diary under Section 176, read with Section 174, which deals with deaths in suspicious circumstances, including suicide by a married woman who has not completed seven years of marriage,” Bhagat said.

“An FIR will be registered based on the inquiry report prepared by the SDM. In such cases, law makes it very clear that police will register an FIR only after the SDM’s inquiry.”

Earlier in the day, the statements of Pushkar’s brother and 21-year-old son Shiv Menon were recorded. Crime branch officers questioned hotel staff and checked the CCTV footage of the third-floor lobby.

The police said they may have to record Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar’s statement if they find her purported affair with Tharoor abetted Pushkar’s death.

“Crime branch officers are examining the call records of Pushkar’s mobile phone as well as BBM messages exchanged between her and her friends as well as Tharoor’s. The couple’s tweets and emails are also being checked,” an officer said.

He said Tarar’s statement would be important only if the probe pointed to suicide.

“Right now, it is a hypothetical question. But if the probe establishes that Pushkar was distraught and depressed over the alleged affair which culminated in suicide, then there is enough ground to make a case of abetment. It is only then that we will need to record Tarar’s statement and will seek the help of external affairs ministry.”

In her tweets, Pushkar had accused Tarar of “stalking” her husband and trying to “break” her marriage when she was away for medical treatment.