Several examinations confirmed presence of poison in food

The Bihar government has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the midday meal tragedy at Chapra in Saran district of Bihar which claimed the lives of 23 children.

The team, comprising eight police officers from other districts, will be headed by Saran Superintendent of Police Sujeet Kumar. It will probe two cases. One against the school principal Meena Devi and others under charges of murder, attempt to murder, causing hurt by means of poison and criminal conspiracy. The other pertains to the protests launched in Chapra the day after the incidents in which four government vehicles were burnt.

Vinay Kumar, Inspector-General (Criminal Investigation Department) will assess the progress of the investigations on a daily basis. The SIT was constituted by Director-General of Police Abhayanand to carry out a complete investigation into all aspects of the incident.

“The scope of the case is so large that the local police alone will not be able to probe the matter. There are no specific terms of reference for the team. It will probe everything. This is an important case that has generated widespread interest,” Mr. Abhayanand told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Several examinations have confirmed the presence of poison in the food. The police would investigate how the poisonous substance found its way into the food. The level of the substance in the meal was five times more than what is in pesticides and insecticides.

“It is clear that the rations were always stored at the principal’s house. School students used to fetch oil in the same plastic container everyday from the principal’s house. However, only that day the container had poison. The girl who fetched the oil container from the principal’s house that day also lost her life. Therefore, the presence of poison certainly does not appear as an accident,” Mr. Abhayanand said.

The police have a court warrant against Ms. Meena, but she and her family continues to evade arrest. A widespread search for her is under way.