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AIIMS politics stink in Sunanda report row

New Delhi, July 2: Sunanda Pushkar’s autopsy report, prepared by doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences five months ago, appears to have been dragged into academic politics at the institute.

The AIIMS administration today asserted it had not put any pressure on any doctor to tailor the autopsy report of former Union minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife. It refuted claims by a senior doctor that he had faced but resisted pressure to write the report in a certain manner.

Sudhir Gupta, the head of forensic medicine who led the team that did the post-mortem on Pushkar’s body hours after she was found dead in a Delhi hotel, has sent a complaint to the health ministry and the central administrative tribunal on the pressure he had faced.

“We want to make it clear — he (Gupta) was under absolutely no pressure whatsoever from anyone in AIIMS,” Neerja Bhatla, a senior gynaecologist and the spokesperson for the institute, said today.

“We have no knowledge of any pressure he was under —he has to come forward and explain who put pressure on him.”

A senior AIIMS doctor who requested not to be named said Gupta’s allegation had become public at a time when he had filed another complaint against AIIMS with the CAT relating to a promotion to a senior colleague in his department.

“If he had faced pressure in January, why didn’t he come forward right then? Why is his complaint about the pressure to doctor a post-mortem report linked to his complaint to the CAT on a completely different issue?” the doctor said.

That complaint concerns a promotion offer to one of his colleagues, O.P. Murthy. A senior doctor at AIIMS who is not in forensic medicine said the complaint appears to question the promotion.

The Telegraph could not independently confirm the contents of the complaint filed by Gupta to the CAT. Gupta did not respond today to calls made by this newspaper to two mobile phone numbers listed by AIIMS with his name.

Amit Gupta, a senior trauma surgeon who is also a spokesperson for the institute, said the CAT was a judicial body and AIIMS would not discuss that issue because it is sub judice.

Pushkar died under what appeared to be mysterious circumstances in January this year in a suite of a Delhi hotel she was sharing with Tharoor.

Police officers who had received the autopsy report from AIIMS said it suggested that she had died from poisoning after she consumed anti-anxiety tablets called alprazolam. Investigators had found empty strips of the drug on her bed.

The report had also mentioned injury marks on her hands and a minor bruise on her cheek but forensic medicine specialists at AIIMS had said the injuries could not explain her death.