Ex-principal gets 10-year jail in midday meal tragedy

Ex-principal gets 10-year jail in midday meal tragedy

23 kids had died after having food containing pesticide

Ex-principal gets 10-year jail in midday meal tragedy

A lower court in Bihar awarded 10 years of imprisonment to Meena Devi, the then principal of Gandaman Primary School in Chapra, after holding her guilty in the 2013 midday meal deaths.

Twenty three children had died after having midday meal at the school in Saran district on July 16, 2013.

The quantum of punishment was pronounced on Monday by the additional district and sessions court judge Vijay Shankar Dubey, who earlier held Meena guilty under Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and Section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

Absolved Rai
The court, however, acquitted Meena Devi’s husband Arjun Rai, who was charged with supplying the contaminated oil with which the meal was cooked on the fateful day.

Rai was acquitted as none of the witnesses could substantiate the charges levelled against him during the trial.

This was the first major incident in Bihar in which 23 children died after having midday meal in a government school. An FIR was eventually lodged on the basis of statement of Akhilanand Mishra, who lost his five-year-old son Ashish in the tragedy.
Following an investigation, a charge sheet (of 346 pages) was submitted which found charges against Meena Devi true.

Altogether 40 witnesses were produced and cross-examined. Those whose statements were recorded included parents of those children who died in the tragedy, doctors who conducted post-mortem, the cook who had prepared the meal and served it to the children, forensic experts and police officials who were associated with the investigation of the case.

The charge sheet said that Rai had purchased pesticide from a sugar factory and kept it in a room where other items of the midday meal were stored.

The food on that fateful day was cooked with the pesticide, which led to the deaths.

A polygraph test was conducted on Meena to establish charges against her. The forensic report, too, confirmed traces of toxic insecticide in the food served to the children.

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