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Bihar mid day meal deaths: Govt says pesticide used in oil

Jul 17, 2013 05:56 PM IST Politics Politics

Patna: The Bihar government on Wednesday alleged political conspiracy behind the mid day meal tragedy at the government primary school in Dahrmasati Gandawan village at Mashrakh block in Chhapra in which 21 students and one cook has died. Claiming that school principal Meena Kumari's husband was a member of political party and used to supply the raw food items for the mid day meal at the school, Bihar Education Minister PK Sahi said that according to the information available to him a poisonous pesticide organic phosphorous was found in the food served at the school.

"According to the doctors the food contained organic phosphorous. The food was poisoned and forensic tests will reveal the kind of poison. If organic phosphorous is used in large quantity, then it acts as a strong poison," said the Bihar Education Minister.

"School principal Meena Kumari was transferred to the primary school because of her political connections. Her husband is a member of a prominent political party and the material for mid day meal used to be provided by him. Her husband is also very close to a prominent political leader of the state," he said.

Sahi went on to claim that all the raw material barring vegetables for the mid day meal had been supplied by the shop belonging to Meena Kumari's husband. "One of the cooks at the school complained to her that there was a foul smell emanating from the cooking oil. But she did not pay any attention and said that the oil was of a very good quality," said Sahi.

But soon after the students started eating the food, they complained that the vegetable, which had been cooked in the oil, did not taste right and even the cook ate some of it and found that the taste was different, he said. According to him Meena Kumari did not eat the vegetable.

Soon after the meal some of the students complained of dizziness and started to vomit. They were rushed to a local hospital, but the medical centre was not geared up to tackle to situation and some of them died.

"Four children died while bring brought to Patna from Chhapra while three are still critical. The state government has done all it can to provide the best medical facilities to the students," he added.

He announced that police will probe the mid day meal poisoning and the entire truth will be known only after the investigation is complete. He also blamed the opposition parties for creating a law and order situation to make sure that the investigations don't start on time and the truth does not come out.

The death toll in the tragedy has risen to 22. Among the dead are also one of the cooks of the mid day meal project Panno Devi and her two children. Three children of another cook Manju Devi are under treatment at the hospital along with her.

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