Assembly in Bihar adjourned over midday meal deaths

Bihar education minister P K Shahi said in the state assembly on Monday that the husband of the arrested principal of the school where 23 children died after eating a mid-day meal bought the insecticide that was found in the food.

“Arjun Rai, husband of the arrested principal of the school Meena Devi, had purchased 250 ml monocrotophos from a sugar mill July 14, two days before the incident,” Shahi said in his reply during the adjournment motion of the opposition to hold a debate on the mid-day meal tragedy. Shahi said police have seized all records, including documentary proof, in this connection.

However, opposition BJP members walked out of the assembly to protest Shahi's reply in the house.

The Bihar assembly was on Monday adjourned following an uproar by the opposition who demanded a debate on the childrens’ death in Bihar’s Saran district.

Soon after the assembly sitting began, opposition members pressed the chair to accept their adjournment motion on the July 16 mid-day meal tragedy in a Saran district school in which 23 children died. The opposition members, mostly BJP legislators, disrupted the proceedings and trooped into the well.

Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary repeatedly requested the members to resume their seats and place the issue after the question hour. But opposition members remained adamant over the issue, and demanded that their adjournment motion, moved by Leader of Opposition Nand Kishore Yadav, be taken up immediately.

The members shouted slogans, waved placards and dubbed the government “insensitive”.

Last Friday, on the first day of the assembly’s monsoon session, opposition members created a ruckus over the children’s death not finding mention in the obituary references by the speaker.

This was the first assembly session after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar snapped the 17-year-old alliance of his Janata Dal-United with the BJP last month over a larger role being given to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP is now in its new role as main opposition in the house.

The session is expected to be stormy as the opposition parties are determined to corner the state government on various issues, such as the Bodh Gaya serial blasts of July 7 and the mid-day meal tragedy July 16. The state government has formed a Special Investigation Team, which is probing the deaths. Before the SIT, Nitish Kumar directed the deputy inspector general (DIG) of Saran district to investigate the tragedy. The DIG has submitted his report.

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