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Cop war of words on Sunanda case

New Delhi, Jan. 27: The ping-pong being played between two wings of Delhi police over Sunanda Pushkar’s mysterious death has led to a war of words amid allegations that a senior officer had tried to influence the probe in a “particular direction”.

This irked some senior officers of the crime branch, which refused to investigate the case that was then shifted back to south district police within two days of its transfer.

On Thursday, January 23, Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi had transferred the case to the crime branch considering its “sensitive nature” and “complexities”. But officers of the crime branch got annoyed after a senior police officer reportedly called and instructed them to investigate the case in a particular way.

The case was transferred back to the south district police on Saturday night. The incident had taken place in an area under the jurisdiction of the south district police.

“We did not want to probe the case following interference by a senior officer and registered our complaint with the top brass. We are already short-staffed and many unsolved cases are piling up at our office. We don’t want any further controversy,” a crime branch officer said tonight.

Pushkar, 52, wife of Union minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead on January 17 in a five-star hotel suite she was sharing with her husband.

Senior officers, however, denied any pressure. They tried to play down the controversy, saying that since the district police were already investigating the case, the crime branch did not want to take it up as there was nothing much left to do.

“We are awaiting the viscera report. Only that would make it clear about the nature of poisoning and will decide which way the case will take a turn,” said an IPS officer at police headquarters. An autopsy report found that Pushkar died of “poisoning”.

“It would have also hampered the continuity of the probe as the district police were probing the case from the beginning,” he added. The officer declined comment when asked why the case was transferred to the crime branch in the first place.

“Please do not blow the issue out of proportion as the crime branch is short-staffed and that’s the reason the case was shifted back to the district police. The district police is better placed to probe itů,” said Delhi police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat.

But the charges continue to fly. “They should have refused to probe the case the day it was transferred to them. Why after two days?” said a south district police officer. “We gave them all the necessary papers and files. The entire exercise has left a bad taste in the mouth and would send a wrong message among the investigators.”

A crime branch officer countered: “They (the district police) are better placed to probe the case and they have already done their homework. Instead of leaking information, they should concentrate on the probe.” The decision to transfer the case to the crime branch had been taken after allegations that local police were leaking information to the media.