Bihar mid-day meal: 5 packets of pesticide found from principal`s house

After the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy in which 23 children lost their lives, investigators on Sunday found five packets of pesticide from absconding school principal Meena Devi`s house.

Zee Media Bureau

Patna: After the Bihar mid-day meal tragedy in which 23 children lost their lives, investigators on Sunday found five packets of pesticide from absconding school principal Meena Devi`s house.

Also, there are reports that the principal might surrender soon.

The Forensic Science Laboratory`s (FSL) report on Saturday in Bihar’s mid-day meal tragedy stated that high quantity of organo phosphorus pesticide was found in the food items that the children consumed.

“Organo phosphorus has been found in the food, it is normally used in insecticides,” Ravindra Kumar, ADG, Bihar told reporters here on Saturday.

The death toll in Chhapra’s mid-day meal disaster rose to 23 on Saturday.

The Forensic Science Laboratory report found Monocrotophos, an organophosphorous compound in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables on Aluminium tasla (utensil), Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Ravinder Kumar told reporters making the report public.

Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purposes. It is very toxic to human beings and other animals, the ADG said quoting the FSL report.

The report confirmed the Bihar government`s apprehension that the food given to the children of Dharmasati Gandaman primary school at Chhapra was poisoned.

A total 23 children died after eating the meal while 24 others and the cook Manju Devi are undergoing treatment at Patna Medical College and Hospital.

"It was also observed from the data available in the FSL report that the peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than 5 times in comparison to the commercial preparation used as a control," the ADG said.

The ADG said the sample results were compared with a control standard (Hilcron) procured from the market. The peak retention times matched the sample, which again confirmed the presence of the pesticide in the samples.

To highlight authenticity, the report said results were interpreted using NIST library, which is an internationally accepted database.

The FSL scientists tested samples of the suspected poisonous cooking medium found in a plastic container, the cooking utensil and the leftover food from a platter, Kumar said quoting the report.

Some other material like froth from the mouth of one sick child, which was collected in a cotton gauge, water and oil was taken from the place of occurance by the police were also subjected to forensic analysis, he said adding the scientists used standard analytical method on GCMS instrument for the lab test.

Details like from where the killer pesticide came and who mixed it in oil would be answered in reports of the police investigation which is still in progress.

The incident took place in Dharamsati primary school in Masrakh in Saran district on Tuesday.

The children belonging to the age group of 8 to 12 years fell ill soon after eating the meal, which consisted of rice, pulse and soyabean.

A case was later registered against the school`s headmistress Meena Devi who has been on the run ever since.

According to district officials probing the incident, Meena Devi had forced the cook to use the oil despite the latter`s complaint that it had a pungent smell.

A government inquiry report has blamed her for the deaths of the children who had consumed mid-day meal on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Amarjeet Sinha, principal secretary, education, had said it was not a case of food poisoning but poison in food. He said preliminary findings pointed to insecticide poisoning of the oil and vegetables.
According to a Saran district official, the forensic science experts had collected samples of the oil used to cook the meal late Tuesday night. "The oil samples had a bad odour," officials said.

(With PTI inputs)