Shashi Tharoor returned from the AICC meet to his hotel suite he shared with his wife Sunanda Tharoor at around 8:30pm and found her dead. Her body seemed undisturbed and was lying in bed, according to Shashi Tharoor's PS, Abhinav Kumar, who called the police.
Separately, DNA reported that Sunanda Pushkar (her surname before marrying Shashi Tharoor) may have committed suicide by hanging herself.
The contradictory reports seem to be in line with an ongoing conflict between Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar/Tharoor, where both seemed to be claiming things directly contradicting each other, without confronting each other either.
Their marriage was said to be in trouble, and Sunanda Tharoor had made several disturbing tweets from Shashi Tharoor's Twitter account that seemed to be BBM messages between a Pakistani journalist and Shashi Tharoor. Their response to this whole episode was also very strange. While Shashi Tharoor's Facebook account was putting out messages that the account had been hacked and that he and his wife were happy, Sunanda Tharoor seemed to be taking responsibility for the tweets and angry over the alleged relationship.
The Pakistani journalist in question, Meher Tarar, in the meanwhile denied any relationship with Shashi Tharoor and made several taunts regarding Sunanda Tharoor's allegations, implying that they were outrageous. Here are the key tweets as reported in India Today:
Sunanda Tharoor seems to have gone back and forth regarding Shashi Tharoor's involvement. At times speaking of his treatment of her in spite of her taking on his guilt, or speaking of him being a "man" and thus interested or prey to a predatory Meher Tarar. At other times she speaks of being happy with Shashi Tharoor.
She has made allegations of stalking against Meher Tarar. At other times she has accused her of being an ISI agent hacking into Shashi Tharoor's computer and making many calls.
Meher Tarar on her part seems outraged by the accusations and now saddened by news of her death.
At the same time there seems to be a history between the two women. For example, this tweet made well before Sunanda Tharoor's accusations.
But the oddness had always seemed a bit apparent to me. Right from the beginning, when Sunanda Tharoor got groped in a mob by a Congress worker and did not file a complaint. That seemed really odd and disempowered for the wife of a senior leader mistreated within the organization.
In recent days, her Twitter conversations at least were more with right wing and AAP related handles than Congress ones, which is what one would expect, considering that she was the wife of a senior leader and Member of Parliament. She also seems to be very candid with all. The laguage of the type of suspecting ISI agents or "we Hindus" and such is also very outside what one sees with the Congress. There is no sense of .... inclusion (?) with his world.
For example, in Mehr Tarar' tweet, which seems to be talking of Sunanda Tharoor, the person she offers to DM the name to is a popular Congress handle. So you have a Pakistani handle gossiping with a Congress worker about the wife of a senior Congress politician. Hardly an uninvolved and professional relationship that she appears to be claiming. For that matter, Mehr Tarar on the whole seems to connect far more with Congress handles than her. This may not be deliberate, but it could add to someone already feeling excluded?
Her body has gone for a post mortem, and we will probably know more soon, but combined with the many mentions of her health problems and needing rest and so on, along with the overall lack of caution in her public tweets, reminds me oddly of my mother when her schizophrenia was at its worst, with the ever changing suspicions against specific people and the suffering she went through because of them. This is not to say this is the case with Sunanda Tharoor, just that her vulnerability and helplessness to deal with a perceived dire threat beyond raging at it and getting little result touched a chord in me with what I saw my mother go through.
There is a vague guilt in me that I commented on her tweets, but did not reach out to her, in spite of recognizing that she needed help before she died.
And a part of me wonders if I ignored her because she was a public figure, assuming that she had resources. Obviously, I could not do much, but hasn't experience taught me that what we most need is a compassionate ear? Strange how I have no hesitation reaching out to so many women, but I didn't, in her case, even when I had seen the need. Or perhaps it is survivor's guilt. "What if"
Of course, it is possible that Shashi Tharoor was really having an affair. Mixed and contradictory reports indicate that she was very angry and seeking a divorce, others say that she did not seem depressed and denied that Shashi Tharoor was having an affair, though she accused Mehr consistently, if about varied things. Then there are the tweets where she said that Shashi Tharoor and she were happy together.
Clearly investigations will happen about her accusations, as well as the cause of her death and we will know more soon.
Of course, the alternative theory is believing her ISI related accusations about Mehr Tarar, as Madhu Kishwar has gone ahead and done by declaring Sunanda Tharoor "eliminated" already. Several others on this track believe she was eliminated because of the accusations, which is rather strange considering that they would now be rigorously examined instead of merely being gossip fodder. Another person found it strange that she didn't tweet if she was taking such a drastic step. So you get the idea. There are all kinds of opinions and little information out there.
Men's Rights Activists have started demanding a dowry case against Shashi Tharoor because they were married less than 7 years, quite forgetting that it isn't a criminal case that is mandatory, but a post mortem. Delhi police have asked a magistrate to conduct an inquiry into her death, since they were married for less than seven years.
Every vulture is going to pick at this one for their own ends. I feel sorry for Shashi Tharoor already.
Or the truth may be something else altogether.
Obviously, this story is going to explode in the days to come.