For the past four years, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has been under a constant suspicion for the alleged murder of wife Sunanda Pushkar. Charges had been filed against him under the relevant sections, when Pushkar was found dead in their hotel room on January 17, 2014. And today, as Tharoor filed an anticipatory bail in Patiala court, to evade an arrest, the Pandora's box came alive again.
But apart from the abusive tweets and the accusations, there also remains a story, the one where the two met, fell in love, and got married. So amidst the murky circumstances involving death and crime, is Sunanda and Shashi's story worth being told? Well, it is.
Sunanda Pushkar was a fierce and independent lady who strived to carve a niche of her own when she met Tharoor. Unfortunately, she had been unlucky in love. Her first marriage failed and her second marriage with businessman Sujith Menon ended with his death, leaving behind a lonely Sunanda with their son Shiv. On the contrary, Shashi Tharoor was a man of politics, a wordsmith, and already married to Christa Giles, a diplomat. Tharoor had also been married in the past to Tilottama Mukherji, granddaughter of Kailashnath Katju, and it did not work out for him. Both married twice, both were unlucky. However, as fate would have it, the two met and couldn't help being intrigued by each other.
It's popular knowledge that the two met for the first time in the year 2009, at the party of a mutual friend Sunny Varkey, in Dubai. It was no love at first sight nor a frivolous romance. It was just two mature minds who admired each other and liked each others' company. Soon, the two developed a friendship, which eventually led to them falling in love. Soon, Shashi realised that he was in love with another woman and to be with her, he had to end his marriage with Christa. He did so, and in the year 2010, Shashi Tharoor and Sunanda Pushkar became man and wife in a simple Malayali ceremony.
No matter what the inside story, their love was visible in the way they carried themselves around each other in public, at least initially. They were always with each other and didn't even shy from slight PDA. In fact, they got teases and even chided for the same by many, considering Tharoor's political career. One also remembers the time when Narendra Modi, who was then the CM of Gujarat, had commented on Sunanda calling her'50 crore wife'. And Tharoor gave it back to him by saying, "My wife is worth lot more. She is priceless. But Mr. Modi, you need to be able to fall in love to know that."
However, four years into the marriage and the castle came crashing down with Sunanda's public allegations of Shashi's affair with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar. As per Mehr, the two had barely met though she was mesmerised by Tharoor. Tarar had interviewed Tharoor for her Lahore-based newspaper.
And the inevitable happened on January 15, 2014. There was a series of tweets that transpired between Tharoor and Tarar, confessing their love for each other, which further blew everything apart.
Here are the tweets:
However, Tharoor issued a statement saying that the accounts had been hacked and that there was nothing of that sort between him and Tarar. He also said that he and Sunanda were in a happy marriage. However, Sunanda came out and spoke just the contrary in an interview. She was livid with anger and even went on to call Mehr an ISI agent.
"@MehrTarar leave us Indians alone and stop talking to my husband and pleading with him its (sic) digrading (sic) respect yourself as a women" (sic), said Pushkar, to which Mehr replied on Twitter, "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" It was a full-blown scandal, to say the least.
"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. I took upon myself the crimes of this man during IPL (Indian Premier League). I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can't tolerate this. I have nothing more to say," she said, speaking on the phone," she said in an interview to Economic Times.
A public announcement of being in a happy marriage and a few days later, Sunanda was found dead in the hotel they were staying at. A senior journalist had revealed that the day before Sunanda was found dead, she spoke to the person and spilled out her woes. Pushkar was inconsolable and suffering from depression and had had a fight with Tharoor. She also alleged that Tharoor had spent three nights with Mehr in Dubai. And when the man came back after a day full of meetings, he came home to a wife who was no more. A tragic end to a story that began with the promise of forever.
Tarar later claimed that she was devastated with the death of Pushkar, whom Tharoor loved 'like the hero of a romantic saga'. She also refuted all rumours of the affair and said though she was fascinated with the man, all they shared post that one interview, was a cordial relationship on social media.
While the speculations lingered on, one still does not know what happened that night. But whatever it may be, the story of Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor will always remain a mystifying one.