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India Reels Over Sudden Death Of Official's Wife

Shashi Tharoor listens to his wife Sunanda Pushkar at their wedding reception in New Delhi, India in 2010.
Shashi Tharoor listens to his wife Sunanda Pushkar at their wedding reception in New Delhi, India in 2010.

India is reeling after the death of Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of government minister Shashi Tharoor. As NPR's Julie McCarthy reports from New Delhi, Tharoor, who was a United Nations official for years, and his wife had been at the center of a social media scandal that grabbed national headlines.

Julie filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Tharoor, the flamboyant diplomat turned politician, found his wife Pushkar dead in a room at a luxury hotel in Delhi.

"The cause of death is under investigation.

"The couple had been at the center of an unseemly spat that raged on Twitter and it had produced obvious distress in Mrs. Tharoor.

"Tharoor and his wife were inveterate tweeters and when a few tweets from Tharoor's account hinted he was possibly having an affair with a Pakistani journalist, his wife confessed she had sent the messages to show that the Pakistani was 'stalking' her husband.

"The tragic turn comes as Tharoor's ruling Congress Party faces a tough re-election and social media faces some tough questions about protecting privacy. "

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports that a doctor who performed the autopsy said Pushkar suffered an "unnatural, sudden death."

That statement, reports The Guardian, contradicts earlier police claims. The Guardian adds:

"Tharoor's aides said the couple had checked into the Leela because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow. He left the hotel room on Friday to attend a session of the ruling Congress party in the capital, but returned late in the day to find the door locked. It was forced open to reveal the body of his wife.

"Tharoor, 57, married Pushkar in 2010, a third marriage for each of them. Earlier that year he had been forced to resign from his first ministerial job after accusations linking him to a company bidding in the lucrative Indian Premier League for a cricket team from his home state of Kerala. Pushkar had a stake in the company at the time."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.