It’s a mystery that refuses to go away. The medical board constituted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to examine the death of Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of former Union minister Shashi Tharoor, has been critical of Delhi Police for not furnishing essential evidence and documents needed for experts to form an opinion.
A report submitted to the police by the three-member medical board on September 27 concluded that the cause of death was “poisoning” but pulled up the investigating officer for not submitting “circumstantial evidences (sic) and statements” about the reason for physical injuries on Pushkar’s body. The report said this information was not provided despite a letter seeking the same.
Making no bones
The Delhi Police on Friday took refuge with the oldest trick of all. Answering reporters, Commissioner B.S. Bassi said (see accompanying report) that the police “still do not have a conclusive forensic report”, and that the “inquest is pending”.
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The AIIMS report didn’t mince any words. “Duration of injuries has been opined already. However, the reason of these physical injuries, circumstantial evidences and statements have not been submitted by IO (Investigating Officer) despite a letter dated 4th April 2014 and the same is required for any further possible medical comments,” the report stated.
The board said several medicolegal points need to be addressed by the Investigating Officer “since the circumstantial information are essential for medical opinion”. The information not provided by the Investigating Officer include “photographs of scene of occurrence”, statements and other circumstantial evidence and information on who prescribed the drugs present in the hotel room where Pushkar was found dead on January 17.
The report said: “There were medicines recovered from scene of incidence i.e. hotel room in which the deceased was found dead. Who prescribed these drugs, from where these drugs were procured and for whom these drugs were prescribed?”
It added: “IO is advised to enquire whether any close relative of the deceased has been prescribed Alprax.” The medicine, used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, was found in Pushkar’s room
The medical board hinted that Delhi Police had displayed laxity in its probe as none of the treatment documents of Pushkar mentioned Alprax. The medical board also pointed out that police had not disclosed whether Pushkar had sought “any medical consultation during hotel stay prior to her death” or provided a statement from the doctor who attended to Pushkar after death.
The board further stated that an email sent by Dr Anil Gupta of Cooper Health Clinic in Dubai after Pushkar’s death “requires investigation to establishâ€¦ speculation about the disease and cause of death”. The bedsheet and mattress on which Pushkar was found too requires forensic analysis, the report said.
Clearly noting that the “cause of death in this case is poisoning”, the report said, “Medical board reserved the comment on specific poison/chemical since there is a lot of limitation on viscera report.” The report added: “Mild foul smelling gas was coming out and tache noir was present in left eye. It should be clarified that when was the deceased last seen alive.” Tache noir is one of the important changes seen in the eye after death. If the eyes remain open after death, the areas of the sclera exposed to air dry out, which results in first a yellowish and then a brownish-blackish band-like discoloration zone called tache noir, the board said.
The fresh report from the board also negated the autoimmune disease Pushkar was said to be afflicted with. Earlier it was reported that Pushkar was suspected to be suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus – a systemic autoimmune or connective tissue disease – that can affect any part of the body.
Tharoor on Friday declined to comment on the fresh report by the doctors from AIIMS. The Congress MP and former Minister of State for Human Resource Development, who was chief guest at the graduation day function of a college in Chennai, avoided answering any query from persistent reporters. Earlier during his speech at the function, he said students awaited hard roads as challenges lay ahead in their lives. “But you should believe in yourself, you should believe in the truth. I have been on those hard roads and that was the only way I was able to cope as well,” he said.
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