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India police: Minister's wife who accused him of affair found dead

By Michael Martinez and Aliza Kassim, CNN
updated 7:55 PM EST, Fri January 17, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Pakistani journalist: "I met the minister twice in my entire life"
  • Pakistani journalist denies having affair and is shocked at death
  • Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Minister Shashi Tharoor, is dead, police say
  • She had publicly accused her husband of adultery with the Pakistani journalist

Editor's note: See more coverage on our Indian sister network CNN-IBN

(CNN) -- The wife of a minister in India has died after a public controversy in which she reportedly accused her husband of having an affair with a Pakistani journalist, authorities said.

Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat confirmed Friday that Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Minister Shashi Tharoor, has died, but he couldn't confirm a cause of death until a postmortem examination is conducted.

Her death comes just days after CNN-IBN and other Indian media reported that she had hacked into her husband's Twitter account and tweeted that he was having an affair with a Pakistani journalist.

That journalist, Mehr Tarar, however, dismissed the affair allegation in an article on the New Delhi Television website.

On Thursday, a day before Pushkar's death was revealed, Tarar described Pushkar's purported tweets as "wild allegations."

"Her tweets to me are so crazy that all I can do is laugh," Tarar said.

After Pushkar's death was announced, Tarar expressed shock on her Twitter account on Friday.

"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," Tarar tweeted.

Tarar spoke to CNN Friday, expressing grief and sorrow over Pushkar's death.

"I have been up the whole night, frozen in one spot, unable to eat or even have a sip of water," Tarar said.

"She had a Twitter fight with me, and then she died. I didn't even get a chance to call her up, and clear the air," she added. "She seemed larger than life, always smiling, and the manner in which she died would haunt me for a long, long time."

Tarar also said the allegations of an affair were false.

"I had met the minister twice in my entire life and always in the presence of other people," Tarar said. "We were in touch until June and then it was reduced to an e-mail or two in weeks. "

Pushkar, a businesswoman from Dubai, and Tharoor married in 2010.The couple was active in New Delhi's glamorous social circles.

On Thursday, Pushkar and Tharoor issued a statement, saying they were "happily married," but that Pushkar had been hospitalized this week and was resting.

"We are distressed by the unseemly controversy that has arisen about some unauthorised tweets from our Twitter accounts," the couple said in the statement, which was linked to Tharoor's Twitter page.

"Various distorted accounts of comments allegedly made by Sunanda have appeared in the press. It appears that some personal and private comments responding to these unauthorised tweets -- comments that were not intended for publication -- have been misrepresented and led to some erroneous conclusions," the couple said.

On Pushkar's Twitter account Wednesday, a tweet accused Tarar of stalking Pushkar's husband: "@MehrTarar leave us Indians alone and stop talking to my huband and pleading with him its digrading respect youself (sic) as a woman."

Another of the tweets purportedly from Pushkar said: "@MehrTarar the audacity of a woman desperaely (sic) in love with an Indian 'please shashi dont make me go i pleaded and begged i love u Shashi.' "

CNN-IBN reported that Pushkar died in her room in a five-star hotel in New Delhi. The couple were staying at the hotel for a few days, said Abhinab Kumar, an aide to Tharoor.

Tharoor is an Indian minister for human resource and development and a member of parliament. He is also the former minister of state for external affairs and former United Nations under-secretary-general.

CNN's Sumnima Udas and Jessica King contributed to this report.

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