More than 150 people were admitted to various hospitals across the Capital after consuming adulterated buckwheat flour (or kuttu ka atta) while observing a fast on the first day of Navratras, police said on Tuesday.
"Most cases were reported from east and northeast Delhi and the victims were taken to three nearby government hospitals - Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB), Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) and Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan, after they complained of nausea, vomiting, stomach ache and shivering. All of them fell sick after eating chapattis made of buckwheat (kuttu) flour," said a senior police officer.
According to police, 51 patients were admitted to the Hedgewar hospital, 56 to the LBS hospital and as many as 83 to the GTB hospital.
"I felt uneasy the moment I finished a poori and started puking soon after," said Ritu Verma, a victim.
Forty of them were taken to Hedgewar Hospital and about 20 were rushed to GTB hospital. The areas from where the cases were reported included Welcome colony and Kalyan Puri.
"Most had symptoms of food poisoning, but no one is critical," said Dr Veer Singh, senior doctor at LBS. Most patients were discharged by the evening.
Incidentally, all the victims had consumed buckwheat flour, hinting at adulteration.
"Usually chalk powder is mixed with kuttu, as it is of similar colour and texture. There is also a possibility of the flour being stale, with fungal or bacterial growth. Both the cases can be harmful," said Pratima Bani, nutritionist.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (east) OP Mishra said, "We have registered a criminal case and are in the process of ascertaining the source of the adulterated food substance."
The government also ordered an inquiry into the incident. Delhi health minister AK Walia directed KS Singh, director, Prevention of Food Adulteration, to conduct a probe into the incident.
"Strong action would be taken against the guilty," said Walia.