The Pakistani journalist accused of an affair with an Indian minister has said she is "shattered" by the death of his wife. Mehr Tarar was accused by Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, the wife of India's human resources minister, Shashi Tharoor, of having an affair with her husband.
Last week, Pushkar published a series of messages on her husband's Twitter account accusing him of having an affair. Less than 72 hours later she was found dead in her hotel room. "Her death is going to haunt me for ages," said Miss Tarar. She told The Daily Telegraph: "I cried the whole night."
Tharoor said on Sunday that he was "horrified to read the reckless speculation" that was "rampant" in the coverage of his wife's death. He has asked India's home minister for a speedy inquiry to establish the truth of his wife's death.
Pushkar accused Tarar of having a "rip roaring affair" with her husband, stalking him incessantly. She also accused Miss Tarar of being a Pakistani spy. Despite a joint statement last week claiming the Tharoors remained happily married, staff at their home said they had argued continually for 72 hours.
Pushkar was "distraught" about the alleged affair, a friend reportedly said yesterday, and is believed to have taken an overdose of antidepressants hours later. But Tarar strongly denied any affair with Tharoor or that she was spy. She said she had had a brief, platonic friendship with him - mainly via email - and that the controversy and death had been caused by unfounded paranoia. Tharoor had loved his wife like "a romantic saga hero" she said. "Nothing meant more to him than making her happy."
They had become "virtual" friends on Twitter after she met and interviewed the minister for a profile in her newspaper in Spring last year. The flattering article comparing him to Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood's leading heart-throb.
Pushkar become suspicious after reading the article and asked her husband to break off all contact with her, Tarar said. An email sent to Tharoor by Tarar on July 28 supports her claim that they were just friends. "Friendship between a man and a woman will always be labelled incorrectly. And even the woman who's the love of your life will doubt your word against very circumstantial evidence," she wrote.
Tharoor later stopped following the journalist on Twitter to reassure his wife. Last week the row was reignited when Pushkar posted messages in which Tarar appears to say "I love you, Shashi Tharoor".
Tarar said: "I have no idea where she got what from, or if she made the whole thing up. Nothing she tweeted came from me. A woman I never met attacked me on Twitter, a fight began, and then she died. I'm shattered." "Shashi loved Sunanda, and he made sure she knew it," she added.