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Bihar mid day meal deaths: Toll rises to 22, Govt awaits forensic report

Jul 17, 2013 02:15 PM IST India India

Chhapra: There have been violent protests in Chhapra district in Bihar on Wednesday morning where 21 children and a cook lost their lives after eating mid day meals at their school. Protests turned violent with locals and political party workers vandalising public property and blocking roads even as the Nitish Kumar government in the state ordered an inquiry.

The central government has also taken note of the incident and said that the forensic report is expected on Wednesday. "It looks like a case of contaminated food. We're hoping to get the forensic results by today to be able to ascertain the reason why the food got contaminated," HRD Minister Pallam Raju said.

"This is an example where we should exercise more caution in dealing with mid day meals. We're hoping others will pick up from this sad example," he added.

Meanwhile, the Opposition is all out against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the incident. "There is no responsible governance in Bihar. The BJP and JD(U) just keep fighting with each other. They have forgotten the people of Bihar," RJD leader Lalu Prasad said.

The BJP also hit out at Nitish. "The government should have evacuated the children to Patna and made arrangements quickly. The government failed to take care of the situation. The CM should rush to Chhapra and meet the families of the children to see if they need anything," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said. The BJP and RJD have called for a bandh in Chhapra on Wednesday while the LJP called for Bihar bandh.

Meanwhile, Bihar Education Minister PK Sahi, speaking to CNN-IBN, claimed it was not a case of food poisoning. He claimed the food was poisoned and that a probe will find if the poisoning was deliberate or accidental.

Out of a total of 51 people who consumed the food, 27 are in hospital, battling for life. The cook who prepared the food also died in hospital on Wednesday morning.

Tragedy struck Dharamsati village on Tuesday afternoon as more than 50 children, all aged between 8 and 12 years, fell seriously ill after eating the mid day meal at their school. "As soon as my son returned from school, we rushed to the hospital with him. His condition was not good. He was vomiting and said his stomach was paining," said a parent.

When the children started vomiting and fainting after the meal, the parents rushed them to the nearby primary health centre. As their condition worsened, they were taken to the Chhapra district hospital.

A family in Chhapra is praying hard for its loved ones. Nine children from the family were studying at the government school where the tragedy took place. While one child has already died, eight others are still in the hospital and fighting for their lives.

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