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Bihar mid day meal tragedy: BJP attacks Nitish for returning central funds; no arrests yet

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Jul 21, 2013 at 10:19am IST

Chappra: Even as the forensic report on Saturday revealed that the cooking oil laced with pesticide was used to prepare the mid day meal which claimed 23 lives in a school in Chhapra, the principal of school and her grocer husband are still absconding. Report points to principal's negligence because it was her duty to ensure that the food was tasted by her and the cook before serving to the children.

Bihar Police spokesperson Ravindra Kumar shared details of the report at a press conference on Saturday. He said the concentration of pesticide monocrotophos that was found in the cooking oil used to prepare the meal for the school children was five times more than what was found in a sample of the same oil collected from the market.

Kumar said the forensic evidence collected from the school was analysed at Forensic Science Laboratory in Patna. He said it was a matter of investigation that how and from where this poisonous substance got mixed in the oil. "I will not go into the details as FSL report will help the ongoing investigation into the mid day meal tragedy," Kumar said.

Bihar mid day meal tragedy: BJP attacks Nitish for returning central funds

Meanwhile, the forensic report has revealed that cooking oil laced with pesticide was used to prepare the mid day meal in Chhapra school.

The principal and her husband, from whose shop she had purchased the cooking oil suspected to be laced with insecticide, have fled after the incident. Their house in Dharmasati Gandaman village in Mashrakh block, about 50 km from Chhapra, is also locked.

Meanwhile, the BJP on Saturday hit out at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his government's alleged failure to use Rs 463 crore of central funds meant for mid day meal scheme and asked him to clarify why this money was not used to provide better and clean food to students.

BJP, whose 17-year partnership with JD(U) broke last month, also charged Kumar has not been seen in public since the death of 22 children after consuming mid-day meals in Chappra district of Bihar. The party said he had not bothered to visit the families of the kids who died.

"This report that Bihar government had returned Rs 463 crore is not surprising. While strict action should be taken against those guilty of serving poisonous food to kids, it should also be probed why these funds were not used. Who will take the blame for failure to use the funds?" BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

He maintained that while responsibility has to be fixed on those guilty of callousness, somebody has to take the political responsibility for the incident.

"Nitish Kumar has not visited those kids who are recovering in hospital. There are reports that the chief minister is unwell. We are concerned about the Chief Minister's health. After all, he is only a political rival and not an enemy," Hussain said.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the mid-day meal scheme in Bihar was in dire straits and the funds which were returned to the Centre could have been used for improving the quality and delivery of the food.

"Instead of improving the scheme, the Nitish Kumar government returned the funds," she added.

With Additional Inputs From PTI

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