Two teenagers died and 31 fell ill following suspected food poisoning at Sukhjit Ashram, a home for mentally challenged persons run by the district administration, in Kapurthala on Tuesday.
Fourteen-year-old Chotu died on Monday afternoon while Jyoti Rani (16) died during treatment at the civil hospital on Tuesday morning.
The condition of four inmates — Pooja (11), Jyoti (22), Nirmal Kaur (23) and Jaspreet Kaur (23) — is stated to be critical.
The ashram staff said the food was donated by five unidentified people on Sunday evening which was served to inmates in dinner. The inmates complained of vomiting and stomach ache in the wee hours of Monday. However, the management took time in informing health officials about their condition due to which medical attention was delayed. Chotu was rushed to the civil hospital in a critical condition on Monday afternoon where doctors declared him brought dead.
The ashram authorities didn’t inform the district administration about the incident on Monday. Deputy commissioner Jaskiran Singh said he came to know about it after the death of the second child on Tuesday.
The DC has ordered an inquiry and directed sub-divisional magistrate Mandeep Kaur to submit the report within three days. “No case has been registered yet, but we will take strict action against those responsible for the incident,” the DC added.
NO RECORDS OF DONORS
Despite the district administration’s direction prohibiting serving of donated food, it was served to the inmates on Sunday night. The ashram authorities even failed to maintain the record of visitors who donated the food.
District social security officer (DSSO) who manages the ashram, evaded media queries saying he was not in the ashram on Sunday when the food was served to the inmates.
Contradicting his statement, ashram attendant Veena said the food was accepted after the DSSO’s approval.
Kapurthala civil surgeon HS Kahlon said preliminary reports suggest the children fell ill due to food poisoning. “Samples of food prepared on Tuesday morning and afternoon have been sent to a Chandigarh lab and the report is expected in a week,” he added.