Poisoned School Meals, Killing 23
The London Telegraph
The head of a Indian primary school could face the death penalty after police charged her and her husband with the murder of 23 young children who died after eating a free lunch contaminated with pesticides.
Police in Saran, Bihar, said today they had charged the couple with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy after completing a thorough investigation into the deaths.
The mass poisoning caused an outcry in India in July over what was suspected to be mismanagement in the popular Midday Meal Scheme which offers free lunches to poor children to encourage their families to send them to school. The scheme has been tainted by a number of corruption allegations and outbreaks of sickness.
But the head teacher of the small school in Bihar, one of India's poorest states, went on the run soon after children started to become sick and was later accused of poisoning the children to damage the reputation of the state government.
A cook at the school said the principal, Meena Devi, had ordered her to continue serving the meal after some children had complained of a strange taste. Officials said has she tasted it herself, as she was required to do under the scheme's rules, many of the children may have been saved.
Mustard oil in which the meal was cooked was later found to contain a toxic pesticide used by local farmers.
Parents demonstrated outside the school in protest at poor treatment and delays in getting the children to hospital and some buried their dead in a field in front of the school in protest.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Vinod Kumar told the Telegraph the principal and her husband were charged today and that he would ask for the harshest penalty for the murders.
"We have filed a charge sheet in the court of chief judicial magistrate against the teacher and her husband.
"Our investigations are complete and we will ask for the harshest punishment to the guilty. We have carried out a detailed probe which is backed by scientific and other evidence," he said.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 10/21/2013
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