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Sunanda autopsy charge

New Delhi, July 1: A senior forensic medicine specialist has complained to the Union government that he had faced pressure to tailor a post-mortem report to describe Sunanda Pushkar’s death earlier this year as normal, a television channel reported today.

Sudhir Gupta, who led the team that conducted the post-mortem at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, has sent his complaints to both the Union health ministry and the Chief Vigilance Commission, the channel Aaj Tak reported tonight.

Pushkar had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in January this year in a suite of a Delhi hotel she was sharing with her husband, the former Union minister Shashi Tharoor. Gupta and other forensic medicine experts at AIIMS had conducted the post-mortem a few hours after her death.

“This is a legal matter, these are serious issues,” Gupta told the channel, but declined to say anything else on the issue. This newspaper was unable to independently contact Gupta on telephone tonight.

His claims are being described by sections of his doctors at the AIIMS as “sensational” and “surprising”.

Some doctors said they also found it curious that Gupta’s complaint has emerged at a time when AIIMS director N.C. Mishra is away at a conference. “Why raise this at a time when he (the director) is away and can’t respond to this,” said a senior doctor who requested not to be named.

The post-mortem was conducted by a team of forensic medicine specialists and was done within hours of Pushkar’s death, said a senior AIIMS doctor who requested anonymity. “His claim would imply that all the doctors involved in the post-mortem were influenced by authorities to tailor the report — why didn’t any of them speak up at the time?”

Police officers who had received the autopsy report from AIIMS had said it hinted that she may have died of an overdose of medications. A senior doctor had said at the time that some injuries observed on her body could not have contributed to her death.

Amit Gupta, the AIIMS spokesperson, said tonight: “The text of a post-mortem report is dictated in real-time while the procedure is under way — there are strict protocols to govern this process, the text of the document cannot be altered.”

Police had said the autopsy report had suggested that Pushkar had died from poisoning after she had consumed 30 tablets of alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication.

The police had found empty strips of the drug on her bed. “There is no evidence of any foul-play,” a police officer had said earlier this year.

In her final days, Pushkar had let loose a series of tweets accusing a Pakistani journalist of stalking her husband.