Cops probe Pakistan, Dubai angle in Sunanda Pushkar’s case

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Sunanda Pushkar probe has taken a new twist with Delhi Police reportedly seeking the list of passengers who travelled from Dubai and Pakistan to Delhi, and vice versa, on January 17 — the day the wife of former UPA minister Shashi Tharoor was found dead in a five star hotel in New Delhi. The exercise indicates that the cops are indeed probing an outsider’s hand in Sunanda’s death.

While senior officers refused to speculate on where the probe was heading, sources confirmed that the foreign regional registration office (FRRO), which comes under the intelligence bureau, had been asked for these details. Police are also considering getting Sunanda’s viscera tested abroad to zero in on the poison in her body. An officer in the investigating team said on Thursday that the viscera could be sent to a laboratory in Scotland. Another option is the FBI’s lab in the US where CBI sends samples in special cases.

A decision could be taken on Friday. A section of investigators, however, say suicide remains a possible cause of Sunanda’s death. The possible move to send Sunanda’s viscera for testing abroad follows the failure of the forensic team from CFSL and doctors to shed light on what caused Sunanda’s death. In their medical report, the doctors of AIIMS had said that the cause of death was poisoning and mysteriously listed out a list of poisons (radioactive isotopes) and drugs which could not be tested in Indian labs.

Earlier in February, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had raised a furor by claiming Sunanda’s nostrils had been squeezed for her mouth to open, after which she was administered a Russian poison. Sunanda’s husband Shashi Tharoor had hit back saying he had stopped taking Swamy seriously long ago. About the passenger list being obtained, sources said that the Delhi Police was basically trying to ascertain if any person from Pakistan or Dubai visited Delhi or returned on the day Sunanda was found dead. They are also trying to find out if a person flew in and out of Delhi on the day — or within a day or two — of Sunanda’s death. Sources said that once the list is received, cops will shortlist the “suspicious” travellers and try to question them.

There will be more than a thousand travelers whose antecedents will need to be verified, the source added. When contacted, a top officer said, “These things are a part of investigations and can’t be discussed or written about. We cannot talk about this.” On Nov 13 afternoon, some officials from Hotel Leela — the hotel where the death took place — were spotted at the Sarojini Nagar police station but the cops did not disclose what they were doing there.

A source said their statements had been recorded and that they had also submitted “a few things” to the police. Police are going through the CCTV footage of the hotel again. A team of senior officers also visited the hotel on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, the cops await analysis reports of Sunanda’s laptop and iPad from CFSL in Hyderabad. They want to know if anything was deleted from the gadgets after her death. Earlier on Thursday, police commissioner B S Bassi said he would talk about the probe at the “right time”.

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