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Villagers lock up school as children fall ill after mid-day meal

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Patna, Nov 18 (IANS) Angry villagers in Bihar locked up a government school protesting against the mismanagement that led to more than 50 children falling ill after eating their mid-day meal, police said Tuesday.

The villagers also demanded Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s intervention to punish the guilty officials.

“We have locked the school, after dozens of children belonging to the village fell ill after consuming the mid-day meal, to protest against the mismanagement,” Ganesh Prasad of Bokanari village said.

Teachers of the school were asked by the villagers not to visit the school and threatened them with dire consequences if they would try to join, a district police official said.

“We have informed the district administration about the threat to issued to us if we visit the school,” the school headmaster Rajnish Kumar Ranjan confirmed.

Over 50 children fell ill Saturday after having their mid-day meal and were admitted to Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital and discharged Sunday after recovering.

According to the villagers, the children complained of uneasiness after consuming their meal of khichri and chokha. A couple of hours later some children complained of a pain in their stomachs and felt nauseous.

Some parents suspected something was wrong in the meal served to their children. But the headmaster refuted it.

“The villagers accused the school teachers and the concerned officials of the education department for irregularities in the process of preparing the mid-day meals and poor quality of education in school,” Ashok Yadav, village body head of Punakala panchayat said.

Most of the villagers alleged that the mid-day meals were prepared in complete unhygienic conditions and the quality of food too was very poor.

Gaya civil surgeon Arun Kumar said that a team was constituted to inquire into the case and a sample of the food served to children was collected for the probe.

In the past, dead lizards, frogs, insects and even dead rats have been found in food cooked in schools in Bihar.

On July 16, 2013, 23 students died after consuming a meal in a primary school in a village in Saran district.

A forensic report confirmed the presence of toxic insecticide strains in the cooking oil used for making food at the school.

The mid-day meal scheme is running in 72,000 schools across Bihar, and millions of students avail of the meals cooked under the scheme.

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