A Timeline Of The Ugly Twitter Scandal That Ended With The Death Of An Indian Minister’s Wife

Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of prominent Indian politician Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in her hotel room, only days after an ugly Twitter scandal in which she accused a Pakistani journalist of stalking her husband.

1. Two days after Sunanda Pushkar, 52, wife of India’s union minister Shashi Tharoor, took to Twitter to accuse a Pakistani journalist of stalking her husband, she was found dead in her hotel room in Delhi on Friday, Jan. 17.

2. Her body was discovered by Tharoor on the bed of her suite at the plush Leela Palaces Hotel in Delhi after he returned from an all-day conference on Friday. The couple was staying at the hotel while their house was under renovation.

3. Until the autopsy is conducted and the real cause of death is determined, police are treating it as an unnatural death. However, officials confirmed there were no external injuries on her body. No suicide note was found either.

4. Her death comes just two days after an ugly Twitter scandal where she used her husband’s Twitter account to post private messages allegedly exchanged between him and a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar.

Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor

AP/File Photo


5. On Wednesday, Jan. 15, a series of curious tweets appeared from Shashi Tharoor’s account which has over 2 million followers. The tweets appeared to be direct messages from Mehr Tarar expressing her love for Tharoor.

6. After the tweets appeared on Tharoor’s timeline, Tarar, whose Twitter bio describes her as a mom and a Pakistani columnist, tweeted this:

Okay. What's going on? Who's tweeting to me? I had an 'affair' with Shashi Tharoor and he's tweeting to me??? How does that work?

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

7. The incriminating tweets were soon deleted, and Tharoor claimed his account had been hacked.

Sorry folks, my @Twitter account has been hacked & will be temporarily deactivated. Bear with me while we solve this.

— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor)

8. However, Pushkar told the Economic Times that she had posted the tweets from Tharoor’s account and that the accounts were not hacked. She also accused Tarar of being a Pakistani spy.

“Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets. I cannot tolerate this. This is a Pakistani woman who is an ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) agent, and she is stalking my husband. And you know how men are. He is flattered by the attention.”

9. Initially, Tarar believed that Tharoor’s account was hacked and asked Twitter to check.

I know Shashi T& respect him greatly. Hv tweeted/written abt it openly.Feel awful abt wht's being tweeted. Maybe @TwitterIndia shld check?

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

10. But as Pushkar continued to publicly accuse Tarar of stalking her husband and being an ISI agent, Tarar became more vocal, calling Pushkar a “woman clearly out of her mind.”

I have nothing to say to a woman clearly out of her mind. To be called an ISI agent, a stalker..I have nothing to add. Just shows who she is

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

11. She reiterated her open admiration of Tharoor on Twitter.

Enough already.I've always praised Shashi Tharoor OPENLY on twitter.Wrote an oped on him.Reviewed his bk.FTed twts.Only b/c NOTHING to hide

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

12. She also said she was a “huge fan” of Tharoor’s books, politics, speeches and views.

@Joydas My FF 2 ST was in Mar;interviewed him in Apr.I maintain: I'm a huge fan of ST's books,politics,speeches & views. And will remain so.

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

13. She said she refused to respond to the personal attacks because this wasn’t a “Jerry Springer reality show.”

I'm not avoiding answering any of u. I just consider it beneath me 2 respond 2 personal attacks on me here.Not a Jerry Springer-reality show

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

14. Tarar denied all the accusations and called Pushkar’s behavior “the lowest form of sickness ever.”

For a woman to trash another woman linking her w/her husband is the lowest form of sickness ever. It's nauseous. No respect for her marriage

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

So I 'stalk' on bbm and phone. The last I checked it was a two-way thing, or maybe technology changed while I 'stalked'?

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

SY9: My name is Mehr, and I am not an ISI agent. Or RAW. Or CIA. Or Mossad. Or even the dead KGB. May I go now?

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

17. She refered to Pushkar as a “blonde” whose “aqal” (brain) was weaker than her grammar.

The blonde's aqal is weaker thn her grammar & spellings.From an 'affair' it has become 'stalking'..make up yr mind, darlin'.Which one is it?

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

18. However, Pushkar continued to tweet accusations about Tarar from her personal Twitter account.

Or perhaps to build up twitter followers thats a cheap thing 2 do ask the Pakistanis what they think of her & yes 20 calls a day is stalking

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

19. Pushkar claimed that she and Tharoor were “very happy together.” She also referred to “vultures” pouncing on him during her time away for treatment of an illness.

for her information Shashi an& I are very happy together sad for her to know i guess i get sick and go away 4 treatment &the vultures pounce

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

20. The next day, Jan 16., Pushkar and Tharoor issued a joint Facebook statement saying they were “happily married and intended to remain that way.” They also referred to her illness, which according to latest reports was lupus.

21. However, Pushkar continued to tweet about the incident, and level accusations directly at Tarar.

@rahulkanwal sadly I am too sick at the moment but will talk it one day and it's disgusting for @mehrt

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

@Funny_Deol @ShashiTharoor @MehrTarar sadly it's not the men it's the woman who hit on a man when the wife is out 2 get treated how gross

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

24. She alleged that she had all of Tarar’s BlackBerry messages to her husband and other men as well.

Guys btw this is a personal affair why is it headline news?All u have achieved is Mehr telling lies& her 5 mins of fame I have all the bbm

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

@sptvrock @rahulkanwal @MehrTarar not just that I have her bbms to various other men in 2013 she is a woman I am ashamed to call one shame

— SunandaPTharoor (@sptvrock)

27. Tarar called Pushkar’s accusations an “imaginary personal thing.”

SY9: A wife who claims to love her husband drags his name through dirt,brings an imaginary personal thing on media,& ends up becoming a joke

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

28. One of Pushkar’s last tweets from her account was a response to a follower’s get well soon message. She said she had “many issues diagnosed” at the hospital and that she would “go with joy.”

29. After news of Pushkar’s death broke, Tarar tweeted these two messages.

What the hell. Sunanda. Oh my God.

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

I just woke up and read this. I'm absolutely shocked. This is too awful for words. So tragic I don't know what to say. Rest in peace,Sunanda

— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar)

31. As the media frenzy around Pushkar’s tragic and controversial death brewed in India, Ishaan Tharoor, the minister’s son from his first marriage, who is a senior editor at TIME, requested everyone to respect his family’s privacy.

I would request that everyone please respect our family's privacy at this moment.

— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor)

32. However, speculation and discussions surrounding Pushkar’s death continued to abound on social media.

Jacob used to be Officer On Special Duty to Shashi Tharoor. RT @23jacob Sad. I know Sunanda. She is not someone who will commit suicide.

— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor)

Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar booked two rooms in Leela, cops telling media. Why would a couple book two rooms in a 7-star hotel?

— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder)

34. Pushkar and Tharoor were married in 2010; it was the third marriage for both. A few months before their wedding, Tharoor was forced to resign from his first ministerial post after he and Pushkar were embroiled in an Indian cricket team controversy.

Stringer/India / Reuters

35. The couple was no stranger to controversy. Only a few days before the Twitter scandal, Pushkar reportedly accosted a journalist who her husband was speaking to at a private dinner party.

Graham Crouch / Getty Images

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.
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