Indian minister's wife found dead amid adultery row all broadcast on Twitter


Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda Pushkar arrive at the British High Commissioner's residence on April 29, 2011 in Delhi, India.


Graham Crouch

The wife of prominent Indian minister Shashi Tharoor was found dead Friday in a five-star hotel room after she exposed his alleged adultery with a Pakistani journalist on Twitter, media reports said.

The Press Trust of India, quoting unnamed police sources, said the minister reported his wife's death to police. It was not immediately known how Sunanda Pushkar had died.

TV footage showed an ambulance with flashing blue lights outside the luxury hotel.

Pushkar's death came a day after Tharoor issued what he called a joint statement from the couple saying they were "happily married and intend to remain that way."

The statement added that "Sunanda has been ill and hospitalized this week and is seeking to rest," and asked for the media to respect the couple's privacy.

The alleged affair surfaced late Wednesday when a curious series of messages appeared on the Twitter account of the suave, thrice-married human resources minister.

Two million followers of @shashitharoor could read exchanges purportedly between the 57-year-old and Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar (@mehrtarar), in which she professed her love for him. He said his wife had discovered his affair.

Tharoor quickly responded by saying his Twitter account had been "hacked," but wife Sunanda spoke to two newspapers saying that she was the author of the messages.

"Our accounts have not been hacked, and I have been sending out these tweets," Sunanda told the Economic Times, adding to the Indian Express that she "100 percent" stood by the messages.

The Pakistani journalist strongly denied having an affair with the former high-flying UN diplomat.

Tharoor had to resign from his first ministerial post after revelations that then-girlfriend Sunanda had been given a free stake in a new Indian Premier League cricket team.

Opposition parties said the stake, reportedly worth up to $15 million, was for Tharoor's behind-the-scenes services in putting together a consortium that bought a franchise in his home state of Kerala.

Both had denied any wrongdoing

In the statement, Tharoor said the couple was "distressed" by the controversy created by "unauthorized tweets" and denounced "distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda in the press."