Mid-day meal: arrest warrant against principal

The court of Chapra’s chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Monday, issued an arrest warrant against the absconding principal of a Saran school that served a tainted mid-day meal that claimed 23 lives last week.

In a related development, Bihar director general of police Abhayanand announced a special investigation team (SIT) would probe the incident to get to the bottom of the matter.

CJM Narendra Mohan Jha issued the warrant for the arrest of Meena Devi, principal of the school at Gandaman village in Masrakh block of Saran district in north Bihar.

The warrant was issued on the request of the investigation officer in the case, sub-inspector Raj Kaushal of the Saran police, who also submitted in the court the FSL report on the cause of deaths.

An FIR has already been lodged against the principal at the Masrakh police station, under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

The FIR was lodged on the basis of the statement of Akhilanand Mishra, the father of one of the victims.

Meena Devi, who has been suspended, is absconding along with her husband Arjun Rai, after the mid-day meal tragedy broke out, raising food safety concerns.

"Raids are being carried out at different places based on clues on the whereabouts of the absconding school principal and her husband, but we have not been able to nab them so far," said Sujit Kumar, SP of Saran.

The SP has directed DSP Kundan Kumar to probe the case on vital points like the source of supply of food grains to the school, who delivered it at the headmistress' home, who took it to the school every day and whether the headmistress had informed the authorities about the number of students availing MDM through IVRS.

Police said a search was also on for a schoolteacher, Kalpana Devi. Raids at her in-laws' village Pakdi and her native Sihauta-Bangara village in Maharajganj, proved futile.

Locals told the police, that Kalpana had been admitted to a nursing home in the state capital as she was expecting a child. 

Saran commissioner SS Sharma and DIG (Saran range) Binod Kumar have submitted their probe report to the state government, which also blamed the principal for the tragedy.

Saran district magistrate Abhijit Sinha said, in accordance with government directives, the school was being attached to a nearby middle school to ensure hygienic mid-day meal to students.

The process for the termination of the service of the school principal was also underway, he stated. 


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