Twelve girls, aged 7 to 14 years, fell ill after allegedly consuming insect-infested food, served to the students under the mid-day meal scheme in a government school in East Delhi’s Patparganj on Thursday.
The girls complained of acute stomach ache and were admitted to the Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital where they were declared out of danger. Ten other girls were admitted to private hospitals and municipal dispensaries in the locality.
“When parents of the schoolgirls approached school principal, Vijay Kumari, she denied that the food was infected and left the school premises. A case has been registered under Section 337 (causing hurt by endangering life or personal safety) in Pandav Nagar police station before the sub-divisional magistrate M G Satya,” a police officer said. Police have collected food samples for further investigation.
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According to police, the students came to school at 7 am and were served their food at 10 am. Each student was giving a helping of poori and rajma prepared for the school by M/s Bharat Ratan Dr Bheem Rao Ambedkar Dalit Utthan Evom Shiksha Samiti. When the students returned home around 11 am, they complained of severe stomach ache and dizziness. When parents inspected their tiffin boxes, they allegedly found insects in the rajma curry, police said.
The parents went to the school and complained to the principal who asked them for the tiffin boxes. She then denied that the curry had insects in it and fled the premises, police said. The municipal councillor for the ward, Sandhya Verma, who was on the school premises at the time, rushed the girls to Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital in her car.
“I called the ambulance, but it took half an hour to reach the school. I did not wait and quickly took the girls to the hospital. We tried contacting the principal repeatedly after that, but the calls went unanswered. She just fled the scene,” Verma said.
“My daughter Ganga came home and started complaining of severe stomach ache. I checked her tiffin box and saw the rajma had insects in it. I immediately took her to school where other parents had gheraoed the principal. The principal, however, said she had eaten the same food that morning and had found no insects. After that, she drove off quickly,” Moni Devi, a parent, said.
East Delhi MP Mahesh Giri visited Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital and met the parents of the girls admitted there. Former education minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia also met the girls in the hospital.
Dr Haresh Mansukhim, Deputy Medical Superintendent at the hospital said, “The 12 girls were brought in around 1: 30 pm. All girls were admitted to the emergency ward where they were diagnosed with food poisoning. They are now stable.”
The Directorate of Education in a report said the same organisation supplied mid day meals to three other schools in Patparganj. But they had received no other complaint from the other schools though the menu of the day for all four schools was the same.