Sunanda Pushkar death probe by Delhi police was ‘shoddy’, says AIIMS forensic head

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) The head of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) forensic department, Dr Sudhir Gupta, on Tuesday said that Delhi Police investigation into Sunanda Pushkar death case was slipshod and that it had unnecessarily delayed sending of the viscera to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US.

“It has been a shoddy investigation on the part of the police. There have been many errors in the investigation,” Dr Gupta told IANS, adding that there had been unnecessary delays in the case. “The delay in sending the viscera samples of Sunanda Pushkar to the FBI led to its degradation,” he said.

On January 15, Dr Gupta told this correspondent that the FBI had found a few radioactive substances in the viscera, “but due to degraded viscera, they could not read its intensity”. This was contrary to what the police had claimed that no radioactive substance had been found in the viscera.

On the police claim over the uncertainty about the exact cause of death or lack of ‘clarity’ on the poisonous substance that caused Pushkar’s death, Gupta told IANS on Tuesday: “Delhi Police are lying if they are saying so.”

Gupta added: “There have been many attempts to dilute the investigation. The previous government and the AIIMS administration even tried to remove me from my post so that they could form a new medical board which would give a ‘natural death’ report. But they did not succeed. I did not compromise with the principles and ethics of my profession.”

Gupta had earlier alleged that he was asked by AIIMS director M.C. Mishra to prepare a post-mortem examination report of Pushkar, stating her death was ‘natural’. The AIIMS director had filed an affidavit with the Delhi High Court last year to remove Gupta from his post.

Pushkar, 52, wife of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in a south Delhi hotel room on January 17, 2014.

Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi earlier said that they had received a report from AIIMS on the FBI’s finding on the viscera samples of Pushkar. The FBI had endorsed the AIIMS report of poisoning as the cause of Pushkar’s death.

Pushkar’s viscera samples were sent to the FBI lab in Washington DC, US, in February last year to determine the poison that may have killed her. The FBI report was received in October 2015.

(Sidhartha Dutta can be contacted at sidhartha.d@ians.in)

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