Wednesday, 17 July 2013

School meals kill 22, villagers dig up graves of children after school meal deaths in Bihar

Villagers in Bihar dug up mass graves in the premises of a primary school to lay the bodies of their children who died after eating midday meal on Tuesday.

Heart-rending wails rent the air as the villagers took to the ritual of burial as several women fainted on the grounds, looking just not ready to part with the bodies of their near and dear ones.

A total of 22 children, all aged between four and 10, died and 25 other fell sick after eating free midday meal at a newly-created primary school at Dharmasati-Gandaman village in Saran district of Bihar, some 80 km north of the state capital Patna on Tuesday afternoon.

The poor children had been served rice with potato-soyabean curry but soon after eating several of them began feeling uneasiness and started vomiting. They were rushed to a local hospital but 22 died in course of treatment.

Soon after the bodies of the children were handed to the parents, the crowd of mourning villagers dug up mass graves almost in the premises of the primary schools and laid to rest the bodies of the kids who barely a days before were studying in the school. TV grabs showed the crowds of local villagers digging up graves with shovels and other earth-cutting tools and gently laying the bodies to rest as other groups of villagers shouted anti-government slogans, demanding resignation of the chief minister.

Footages also showed the abandoned books of the children wrapped in plastic bags lying on the ground in the ghostly class room. Also lay on the ground were the dirty plates in which the kid had eaten meal yesterday.

“We had been served rice with potato-soyabean curry in the midday meal but soon after eating we began feeling pain in stomach and started vomiting,” said bare-bodied Poonam with saline bottle attached to her hand. She had talked to the media persons after she came out of the bed to meet the nature’s call after feeling fine.

Angry villagers also set fire to four vehicles of the local police and damaged many others vehicles hitting them with woods and other stones to register protests during the day-long shut-down in Saran district called by the opposition parties. They also had violent clashes with the police.

“That is a criminal act and gross negligence on the part of the official who showed no sensitivity and rushed the sick children to the hospital in a bus which came to a stop midway as it ran short of fuel. By the time the fuel could be arranged, the condition of many children had deteriorated,” alleged local parliamentarian Prabhunath Singh from opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The BJP spokesman Rajiv Paratp Rudy while expressing shock too blamed the callousness on the part of the state administration behind the incident, saying many lives could have been saved had the children been admitted to hospitals on time.

At local hospitals, parents cried with the bodies of the children and became hysterical after losing their near and dear ones. “How will we live the rest of our lives? We have lost both of our children,” cried Harendra Mishra. So was Upendra Kumar who lost three of his children.

State authorities found traces of poison in the food and do not rule out conspiracy. Another theory is that food poisoning may be the cause of death. “Preliminary investigation suggests the children died of poison. This is a matter of inquiry now as to how the poison reached the school kitchen,” asked Bihar’s education minister Prashant Kumar Shahi.

Social welfare minister Perveen Amanullah who rushed to the local Patna Medical College and Hospital to see the sick children admitted there too suspects conspiracy in the incident.

“We suspect the children died of eating poisoned food. Even after eating sub-standard food, the maximum could be that the children might have fallen sick, not died,” said the minister, adding the incident was being thoroughly probed.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has in the meantime ordered an inquiry into the incident while expressing deep grief over it. He has also announced a compensation of Rs 200,000 to each of the victim family.

Wednesday 17 July 2013


Post a Comment