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Bihar midday meal tragedy: Absconding school principal surrenders, arrested

Police on Wednesday arrested the absconding principal of the government primary school in Bihar's Saran district where 23 children died after eating contaminated food last week, officials said.

Saran Superintendent of Police Sujit Kumar that Meena Devi was arrested by Special Investigation Team. Earlier in the day, she filed a petition for anticipatory bail in a court.

The lawyer for principal Meena Devi filed a petition for her anticipatory bail in the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) court in Saran, a district police officer said. "The court is likely to hear the case tomorrow (Thursday)," he added.

Protests against Midday meal death
Children and activists shout anti-government slogans as they march to the parliament demonstrating against the death of 23 children in Bihar after they ate poisoned 'midday meals' during a protest in New Delhi last week. Pic/AFP

Police have already filed a petition in the court to attach Meena Devi's property after obtaining her arrest warrant July 22.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court of CJM Narendra Mohan Jha declared the primary school principal at Gandaman village a proclaimed offender in the mid-day meal case.

The court also declared her a fugitive after police informed it that she might have fled Bihar. Police have published a written proclamation requiring her to appear before the court.

According to police, Meena Devi has been on the run since July 16 when the tragic incident took place.

A government inquiry report has also blamed the principal for the deaths of the 23 children last week.

Police raided her house twice in the last three days and recovered a bottle of pesticide, traces of which were suspected to be present in the school food.

According to district officials, Meena Devi forced the cook to use an allegedly contaminated cooking oil despite the latter's complaint that it bore a pungent smell.

She has been suspended from service for gross negligence.

A first information report has been registered against her on penal charges of murder and criminal conspiracy.

A forensic lab report Saturday confirmed presence of toxic insecticide traces in the cooking oil used for making food at the school.

The poisonous substance, organophosphorus, in oil samples collected from school was more than five times the commercial preparation available in market, police said.
 

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