The death toll in the food poisoning incident at a temple in Karnataka’s Chamarajnagar district went up to 14 on Monday, even as forensic tests of the food samples confirmed presence of a pesticide in the ‘prasad’, officials said.
More than 100 people were taken ill after consuming tomato rice that was served as ‘prasad’ at Kichugutti Maramma temple in Suluvadi village of the district on December 14. Several people, with symptoms of severe food poisoning, are undergoing treatment at hospitals around Chamarajnagar and neighbouring Mysore district.
IG (Southern Range), Karnataka, K V Sharat Chandra confirmed that the forensic test have revealed presence of an organo phospate, called monochrotophos, in the ‘prasad’. “The tests have not revealed the quantity of the insecticide that was present in the food,” he said.
Monochrotophos – found in a variety of pesticides – has been banned around the world, but is available in India. It is known to be severely toxic for humans, animals and birds.
Probe is on in the matter. Initially it was suspected that the insecticide-laced food was deliberately served to devotees during a foundation stone laying ceremony – for a newly-built structure – in the temple. An ongoing internal dispute between two groups for seizing control of the management of the temple, popular among devotees from border towns in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, had led to such speculation.
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