'This food has turned killer'

Jul 18, 2013, 01:50 IST | Agencies

Wailed a woman whose two sons were among the 23 who died after eating free school meals in Patna that may have been contaminated with pesticides; violent protests rocked the city amid claims that officials failed to respond quickly to the mass food poisoning

The food has turned killer, wailed a woman whose two sons were among the 22 children who died after they ate mid-day meal at their school in Bihar’s Saran district.

Food for death: A mother weeps outside the Patna Medical College and Hospital after her children died.

“This food has turned killer. We did not know that when the children go to school then we will get to see their dead faces,” lamented the woman whose two sons Prahlad and Rahul died in the tragedy that also left 60 children sick, including 10 critically ill.

The woman, wife of Harendra Mishra in village Dandaman, cried bitterly as she sometimes cursed the government and sometimes stared blankly at those who trooped into her dwelling to console her.

The scattered belongings of children who consumed the meal, after which many started to vomit and complain of stomach aches. Pics/AFP

A pall of gloom hung over Dandaman village where 20 students and the cook died. Another villager, Ramanand Rai, lost his daughter Kajal and her grandmother said the family’s dream now lay shattered.

According to available statistics, 22,102 government schools do not have kitchens in the state. In 7,235 schools, the storage room is under construction.

The mid-day meal scheme is running in 72,000 primary, middle and aided primary schools alongwith madrassas and other educational centres in Bihar.

District Magistrate Abhijit Sinha said 10 children died after eating the mid-day meal at Dharamsati primary school in Masrakh in Saran district. Later, eleven more children died and more than 60 fell ill.

Over two dozen sick children have been brought to the Patna Medical College and Hospital after their condition deteriorated.

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