Sunanda Pushkar lived and died in media glare

Sunanda Pushkar lived and died in media glare
New Delhi, Jan 18: Sunanda Pushkar is once again back to the media headlines. Last time, media carried short versions of her biography when she married Union minister Shashi Tharoor after the much-discussed IPL controversy.

This time, it is for totally a different reason. Sunanda Pushkar, the 52-year-old Kashmir-born woman, was found dead on Friday night in Hotel Leela Palace, Delhi. Police is yet to decide the exact cause of death. However, the autopsy conclude that it was 'an unnatural death'.

Many of her close friends refuse to believe that Sunanda committed suicide. "She was a very strong woman, " they repeat. She has been a fighter throughout her life.

The daughter of an Army man, Lt Col PN Dass, Sunanda Pushkar, 52, belonged to the small town of Sopore in the Kashmir Valley. She graduated from a Srinagar college and worked for some time as a receptionist at a hotel in the city.

Sunanda met her first husband, Sanjay Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit, when she was still in college. It was a troubled marriage, she told Tehelka magazine few years ago. She got divorced soon and some years later, she married Sujith Menon, a Keralite and a close friend of her former husband.

In the early 1990s, the couple shifted to Dubai, where Sunanda worked with an advertisement firm and eventually, she started her own event management firm. Her son Shiv Menin was born during that time. However, Sujith Menon died in a road accident in 1997 in India.

Distraught, Sunanda stayed on in Dubai, bringing up her young son as a single parent while struggling as a small-time event manager. She lived in Canada for sometime, but soon returned to Dubai and began working with a real estate firm.

It was in 2009, Sunanda met Shashi Tharoor, a Congress Union minister from Thiruvananthapuram, at a party. The friendship grew and soon there were allegations that Sunanda had been given free stake worth Rs. 50 crore in a new Kerala team for the cash-rich Indian Premier League.Opposition parties alleged that the "sweat equity" was actually a payment to Mr Tharoor.

There were media stories that she was a 'beautician' and owned a 'spa in Dubai'. She rubbished off all the reports and said media was portraying her as a 'slut' and a 'brainless woman'. Also, there were gossips about Tharoor's affair with Sunanda. Tharoor had to resign from his ministerial post and in August 2010, he married Sunanda in a function in Kerala.

The couple could never escape the media glare. Sunanda accompanied Shashi to almost all the public events he attended and the couple seemed like they were very much in love. When Narendra Modi called Sunanda Shashi Tharoor's 50 crore girlfriend, Mr Tharoor shot back that his wife was priceless. in 2012, Sunanda slapped a man at the Thiruvananthapuram airport for misbehaving with her.

In 2013, when Article 370 became a hot topic of discussion, Sunanda spoke out strongly for the rights of Kashmiri women in the valley.

Recently, there were reports that Sunanda threw a tantrum at an event in Dubai where she allegedly shouted at and threatened a reporter.

On Wednesday, Jan 15, in a series of tweets, Sunanda accused a Pakistani columnist Mehr Tarar of "stalking" her husband on BBM. A Twitter spat broke out between the two women which turned ugly when Sunanda called Tarar 'an ISI agent'. Tarar refuted the allegations.

She was heartbroken, said people close to her. On Twitter, she even hinted at filing a divorce petition.

Shashi Tharoor was visibly disturbed over the Dubai incident and the Twitter fiasco. He tried to cover up the incident saying 'his Twitter account was hacked'. The couple issued a joint statement on Jan 16 which said they are "happily married" and "intend to stay that way."

The statement added that Sunanda was unwell and sought privacy from the media.

She checked into the Leela Palaces hotel in Delhi on Thursday morning, reportedly because her house was being painted. On Friday evening, when Tharoor returned from AICC meet, he found her dead on the bed of their suite.

Oneindia News

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