Bihar principal held,Nitish defends govt

A week after 23 children died after consuming the lunch served in their government school in Gandaman village,police Wednesday arrested school principal Meena Devi who had gone missing since the tragedy.

Written by Santosh Singh | Patna | Published: July 24, 2013 9:55:00 pm

A week after 23 children died after consuming the lunch served in their government school in Gandaman village,police Wednesday arrested school principal Meena Devi who had gone missing since the tragedy.

Devi was arrested from Revilganj,10 km from Chhapra town. She was said to be on her way to a court in Chhapra to surrender when she was held. She has been booked for murder,attempt to murder and criminal

conspiracy.

Police said members of her family including her husband could be investigated following her interrogation.

The arrest came as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faced the media for the first time since the incident to defend his government’s handling of the incident and the state police chief said the poisoning of the students was intentional.

Kumar defended the “response time” of his government to the incident and said he was not one to “remain silent and sit idle” as the opposition was alleging.

“The tragedy is heartrending and has shaken all of us. I could not go there because of personal health problems but it never meant that I had not been monitoring it,” he said,adding that the police must investigate all angles.

Kumar,however,did not call the incident a “political conspiracy” as his HRD minister had alleged on July 17. “High concentration of pesticide in food samples as revealed in the FSL report does point towards something. It is up to the DGP to find out more,” he said.

DGP Abhayanand said initial investigations had clearly hinted that it was a case of “intention,not negligence”.

“There was so much concentration of pesticide in the food and oil samples that mere inference suggests that it is intentional and was not an act of negligence,” the DGP said.

The CM said while the SIT would conduct a thorough investigation,the state government had decided to offer a special development package to Gandaman. “We have decided to open a high school in the village,repair approach roads and lanes,improve the power situation and monitor implementation of old-age pension,Indira Awas and other development schemes,” Kumar said.

He also sought to play down questions about medical negligence saying all children had been brought from Chhapra to Patna on the day of the incident.

“It is true that some children died on the way to PMCH and two died at the Patna hospital,” he said,as he parried questions about why doctors cannot be held responsible for allegedly administering wrong medicines.

“I am not a doctor,” Kumar said as reporters persisted with questions about allegations of medical negligence by the parents of the victims.

“I am deeply hurt by the opposition having launched an attack on me for not visiting the scene of the incident. I cannot stoop to their level to play such politics. But they should remember that as long as I have the people’s mandate and God’s blessings,I am not bothered about anything,” Kumar said.

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